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3 1924 098 820 842 

a Cornell University 
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the United States on the use of the text. 

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Tales and Traditions of our Northern Ancestors. 






W. S. W. ANSON. 









i^/: -n A,, tf 3 

Butler &: Tanner, 

The Selwood Printing Works, 

Frome, and London. 


A COMPLETE and popular English account of the 
■*■ ^ religious beliefs and superstitious customs of the old 
Norsemen, suited to our younger readers, has hitherto 
been left unwritten. The editor feels sure that our elder 
children can easily be brought to take a beneficial interest 
in a subject of such great intrinsic worth to all of us, and 
has therefore brought out the accompanying book. 

Our old ancestors were a hardy, conservative race, and 
tenaciously held by the treasured relics of their former be- 
liefs and customs long after they had been shattered by the 
onset of Christianity. They retained their primitive Odinic 
belief as late as a.d. 800, and we therefore possess it in a 
very complete state, far more so than any other European 
system of mythology. We English have to this day in- 
herited this conservative trait of their character, and are 
still continually in every-day life coming across new and 

viii PREFACE. 

unexpected remnants of our earliest beliefs. Paragraphs in 
the newspapers, containing reports of police trials, etc., very 
frequently bring forward new and as yet undiscovered 
superstitions, which clearly hark back to the once popular 
and all-extensive faith of the North. 

Who would think, for instance, that in the time-old May- 
day festivals, we should discover traces of the oldest cele- 
brations of the triumph of the Summer Odin over the 
Winter Odin, or that through the baby rhymes and nursery 
sayings of to-day, we should be able to trace the common 
creed of a nation of thousands of years ago ? To him un- 
used to this kind of research, such things will appear im- 
possible ; but we think our book will considerably extend 
the sceptic's line of vision, if indeed it does not convert 
him to an ardent student in the field he has before made 
light of. 

With regard to the translation of the passages quoted 
from the Old Norse, Icelandic, etc., the original metres, 
alliterative poems, etc., have been imitated as accurately as 
possible, though it must be confessed that in one or two 
places the effect appears somewhat weak and laboured, a 
result that might have been anticipated, and one which it 
is hoped the reader will overlook. 

With reference to the orthography adopted : in most 
cases the proper names have been anglicized in form. 


according to established rules, as far as has been possible. 
Let us take a few instances : — 

The Icelandic nominatival rhas always been dropped, as 
in the words Ragnarokr, Thrymr, etc. 

In the case of reduplicated letters, the last has been 
eliminated, unless an alteration in sound would have been 
thereby occasioned, e.g., Jotun has been adopted instead of 
Jotun», Gunlod instead of Gun«ldd, etc. 

W has been throughout used in place of V, since scholars 
have pretty generally decided that it more nearly represents 
the original pronunciation than the English V ; thus we 
spell Walhalla, Wiking, Walkyries, etc. 

Many words have -heim affixed to them : -heim means 
abode, dwelling, and is the same word as the English home ; 
as instances, Nifelheim, the dark home ; Jotunheim, the 
home of the Jotuns, giants, etc. 

The suffix -gard appended to a word means />iace (Eng- 
lish yard, ward, gard-en), and is found in such words as 
Asgard, the place of the Ases, the gods ; Midgard, the 
middle place, the earth ; Utgard, the out or lower place. 

W. S. W. ANSON. 

October \st, i8So. 

^ ^ ■ — ^T- yr ^^_^ ■ — ■ ^ — 


THE rapid exhaustion of the first edition of this work 
has called for its immediate reprint ; and the book is 
therefore issued in its second edition with but very slight 

We have to thank our kind reviewers for their favour- 
able critiques of our work, and to hope that they will ex- 
tend it to Dr. Wagner's new volume, which we are about 
to bring out, forming a continuation of the present work, 
and dealing with the Epics and Romances of the Middle 
Ages, of the Teutonic and Carlovingian cycles. The two 
books together will, we believe, constitute a fairly complete 
treatise of the mythical and traditional lore of the Ger- 
manic race. 

W.S.W. A. 

April, 1882. 




Myths and stories of the gods, 3 — The gods, their worlds and deeds, 4 — 
Odin, Wodan, Wuotan, 5 — Frigg, or Freya, and her handmaids, 6 — Thor 
or Thunar, 6 — Tyr, Tius or Zio, 9 — Heru, Cheru or Saxnot, 9 — Heim- 
dal or Riger, 10 — Bragi and Iduna, 10 — The Wanes, Niorder, Freyer, 
Freya, 10 — Fate, Noms, Hel, Walkyries, 10— Ogir and his com- 
panions, II — Loki, II — The other gods, 12 — The Golden Age, 12 — Sin, 
13 — Iduna's departure, 13 — Baldur's death, 14 — Ogir's banquet, 15 — 
Loki inchains, 15— Ragnarok, 16 — Lay of the Norse gods and heroes, 18 i 


Legends and Myths. 

Creation of the world, 22 — Day and Night, 24 — Two first human beings, 
25 — ^AUfather, 25— Yggdrasil, the World- Ash, 26 — The divine kingdom, 
31— Influence of Christianity, 32 — The Runic language, 33 . . .22 


The Gods, Their Worlds and Deeds. 

The Norns, 36 — Dwarfs and Elves, 38 — Giants, 42 — Worlds and heavenly 

palaces, 47 36 


Opponents of the Gods. 


Loki and his kindred, 53 — The giants, 55— Muspel and his sons, 56— 

Surtur, 57 SI 

King Gylphi and the Ases. 
Gefion, 53 — Gylphi in Asgard, 62 58 


Odin, Father of the Gods and of the Ases. 

i. VVodan, according to the oldest conceptions, 71 — The myths of the Wild 
Hunt and of the Raging Host, 72 — The sleeping heroes, 78 — The higher 
conception of Wodan, 81 — Odin at Geirod's Palace, 83 — Odin, the dis- 
coverer of the Runes, and god of poetry and of wisdom, 86 — The 
draught of inspiration ; Odin's visit to Gunlod ; Journey to Wafthrud- 
nir, 88 — Odin's descendants, 94. 

ii. Frigg and her maidens, 96 — Other goddesses related to Frigg, 

iii. Holda, Ostara, 107 — Berchta, 115 — The White Lady, 116. 

iv. Thor,Thunar (Thunder), 121 — Thor's deeds and journeys ; Making 
ofMiolnir, 125 — Journey to Utgard, 129 — Duel with Hrungnir, 137 — 
Journey to Hymir, 141 — Journey to Thrymheim to get back Miolnir, 142 
— Journey to Geirod's-gard, 147 — The Harbard Lay, iji. 

V. Irmin, 151. 

vi. Tyr or Zio, 155. 
vii. Heru or Cheru, Saxnot, i5i. 
viii. Heimdal, Riger, 166. 

ix. Bragi and Iduna, 172 — Giant Thiassi steals Iduna, 174. 

X. Uller, 177 66 


The Wanes. 

xi. Niorder and Skadi, 183. 

xii. Freyer or Fro, 189 — The wonderful Quern Stones, 191 — Skirnir's 
Journey to Gerda, 199 — Young Swendal, 204. 



xiii. Freya, Frea or Frouwa, 206 — Freya and the young huntsman, 206 
— Rerir and his love Helga, 209 — Swipdager returns to Menglada's 
Castle, 212 181 


Fate, 217— Legend of Starkad, 219— King Fridleif, 222— The Norns, 222 — 
Hel, 225— The Walkyries, 227 — Legend of King Kraki, 227 — Dises, 
233 — Mandrake root, 234 217 


Ogir and His Followers. 

Legend of the Lake Maiden, 236 — Legend of the Loreley, 241 — The Water- 
Neck, 245 236 


LoKi AND His Race. 

The giant SkrymsU and the peasant, 247 — Loki's progeny, 250 — Loki's race, 

25' 247 

The Other Ases. 

Widar, 252— Hermodur the Swift, 254— Wali or Ali, Skeaf, 256— Legend of 
King Skeaf, 257 — Baldur and Hodur, 259— Forseti, 264 . . . 252 


Signs of the Approaching Destruction of the World. 

The Golden Age, 26J — Sin, 266— Iduna's departure, 270 . , . . 265 


Baldur's Death. 

How Wala was conjured up, 273 — Loki visits Frigg in the dress of an old 
woman, 276— Death of Baldur, 278 — Hermodur sent to the realm of the 
shades, 282 — Wali appears at Walhalla, and avenges Baldur, 285 . 273 


LoKi's Condemnation. 


Ogir's banquet, 287 — Loki reviles the gods, 289— Loki flees, is captured and 

put in chains, 290 — The faithful Sigyn, 294 ...... 287 


Ragnarok, thf Twclight of the Gods. 

The Fimbul-Winter, 296— The Last Battle, 298— Surtur flings his fire-brands 
over the nine worlds, 301 — Renewal of the World, 301 — Lif and Lifthra- 
sir, 302— The Field of Ida, 305— The Lay of Wala, 309 ... 296 



Frontispiece . ' , . , facing title. 

Frigga engaged in hunting 7 

Ancient Hindu idea of the world 17 

Statue after Prof. Engelhard 19 

Day 24 

Night 25 

The Ash Yggdrasil 27 

A Northern landscape 36 

Elves 38 

Rocks in the Riesengebirge 44 

The sleeping giant 45 

Surtur with his flaming sword 51 

Gylphi beholding Asgard 62 

Odin between two fires in Geirod's palace 85 

Odin's visit to Gunlod 91 

Frigg and her maidens 97 

Hilde, one of the Walkyries 105 

Holda, the kind protectress 1 1 1 

Thor and Loki's journey in women's clothes 125 

Skrymir attacked by Thor, when asleep 133 

Chaining of the Fenris Wolf 153 

Tyr, the Sword-God 159 

Bragi and Heimdal receiving the warriors in Walhalla . .172 

UUer the Bowman 179 

Niorder and Skadi on their way to Noatun 187 



Skimir conjures Gerda to follow him 199 

Walkyries conducting the fallen heroes to Walhalla . . .216 
Walkyries leading the warriors on to battle . . .' . .217 

Fingal's Cave 236 

Ogir and Ran 243 

Freya among the Dwarfs 265 

Ogir's banquet 287 

Loki in chains 292 

Ragnarok, the Last Battle 299 

Freya in her chariot 303 


JUST as in the olden time, Odin, the thoughtful god, gave his 
eye in pledge to the wise giant, Mimir, at Mimir's Well, for a 
draught of primeval wisdom, so men, longing for knowledge and 
loving the history of old Germany, sought for the great goddess 
Saga with untiring diligence, until at length they found her. She 
dwelt in a house of crystal beneath the cool flowing river. The 
eager enquirers went to her, and asked her to tell them about the 
olden times, and about the vanished races which had once ruled, 
suffered, fought and conquered, in the north of Europe. They found 
the goddess sunk in dreamy thought, while Odin's ravens fluttered 
around her, and whispered to her of the past and of the future. 
She rose from her throne, startled by the numerous questions 
addressed to her. She pointed to the scrolls which were lying 
scattered around her, as she said : "Are ye come at last to seek 
intelligence of the wisdom and deeds of your ancestors .' I have 
written on these scrolls all that the people of that distant land 
thought and believed, and that which they held to be eternal truth. 
I went with these mighty races to their new homes, and have 
faithfully chronicled their struggles and attainments, their deeds, 
sufferings and victories, their gods and their heroes. No one has 
inquired for these documents in the long years that are past ; so 
the storms of time and the glowing flames of Surtur have caused 


the loss and destruction of many of them. Seek out and gather 
together such as remain. Ye will find much wisdom hidden there- 
in, when ye can read the writing and understand the meaning of 
the pictures." 

The men sought out and collected as many of the scrolls as they 
were able. They arranged them in order, but found, as Saga had 
told them, that very many were lost, and others only existed as 
fragments. In addition to that, the runic writing on the documents 
was hard to read, and the true meaning of the faded pictures un- 
certain. Nevertheless, they allowed no difficulties to terrify them, 
but courageously pursued their work of investigation. Soon they 
discovered other records, or fragments of records, which they had 
supposed to have been lost. What the storms of time had scattered 
in different directions, what ignorance had cast aside as worthless, 
they brought to the light of day, often from hidden dusty corners 
and from the cottages of the poor. They arranged their discoveries 
in proper order, learnt to read the mystic signs on the documents, 
and the veil fell away before their increased knowledge. The old 
Germanic world, with its secrets and wonders, and the views of its 
ancient people regarding their gods and heroes, which were for- 
merly lost in the darkness of the past, were now visible in the light 
of the present. We intend to give, in the following pages, the 
treasures that were thus rescued from oblivion, and to interweave 
with them many scraps of information which are rapidly dying out 
and being forgotten. We have endeavoured to make the book as 
interesting as possible, to induce both the young and the old to 
examine of what Teutonic genius was capable in the early dawn of 
its history, a history which in modern times has shown its descend- 
ants crowned with immortal laurels on many a blood-red field of 
battle. The religious conceptions of the most famous nations of 
antiquity are connected with the beginnings of civilization amongst 
the Germanic races. If we unflinchingly follow out the traces of a 


common origin, in spite of the difficulties in our way, we shall often 
find that the gods of the heathen Asgard, and the tales about them, 
though apparently dissimilar, really have their basis in the cus- 
toms and opinions held in the country in which they all had their 
birth, and that in their early stages they were more or less con- 
nected. Although in Central Asia, on the banks of the Indus, 
in the Land of the Pyramids, in the Greek and Italian peninsulas, 
and even in the North, whither Kelts, Teutons and Slavs wan- 
dered, the religious conceptions of the people have taken dif- 
ferent forms, yet their common origin is still perceptible. We 
point out this connection between the stories of the gods, and 
the deep thought contained in them, and their importance, in order 
that the reader may see that it is not a magic world of erratic 
fancy which is opened out before him, but that, according to 
Germanic intuition. Life and Nature formed the basis of the exist- 
ence and action of these divinities. Before we proceed to study 
each individual deity in his fulness and imposing grandeur, let us, 
for the better understanding of the subject, rapidly pass their dis- 
tinguishing characteristics in review. 

The Myths and Stories of the Gods of Norse antiquity come 
first in order. We shall see, as our work goes on, that their 
origin is to be found in the early home of the Aryan races in 
the far East, when the spirit of man in the childhood of the world 
bowed down before those phenomena of surrounding nature which 
exercised a decisive influence on the struggles and life of humanity. 
Our ancestors, like all other primitive folk, believed firmly in the 
personality of these phenomena. All occurrences in the external 
world, the causes of which were unknown, and all facts of men- 
tal perception gradually assumed a human form in the mind of 
the people. During their wanderings these were as yet vague ; 
but after their settlement in their new home they got further 
developed by wise seers and bards into typical forms ; and then, as 


time went on, increased in number, until at length they faded away 
as the old faith died out, or was thrust aside by a new religion. 
Besides this, we find that many mythical figures arose from the 
Teutons being brought in contact with other nations ; others again, 
and these the greater number, were due to the idiosyncrasies and 
characteristics of the Germanic race, and to the climate and mode 
of life pursued in their new home. Next come the myths about the 
creation of the world, the gods and their deeds. 

The Gods, their Worlds and Deeds In the abyss of im- 
measurable^ space the ice streams, Eliwagar, roll their blocks of ice ; 
the heat from the South creates life in the frozen waters, and the 
I giant Ymir, the blustering, boisterous, erratic, untamed power of 
I Nature, comes into being. At the same time as the clay-giant, arises 
the cow, Audumla. She licks the salt-rock, and then the divine 
Buri is born. His grandsons, Odin, Wili, and We, conquer and kill 
the raging Ymir, and create the world out of his body. The 
giant's children are all d rowned in his blood, except Bergelmirj who_ 
I saves hi mself in a boat, and b ecomej the father of the giants. The 
flood is here described, and the giants are to the northern mind 
what Ahriman, the Principle of Evil, was to the Iranian. The gods 
point out to the sun and moon, .day and night, the courses they 
must follow in chariots drawn by swift horses, after having com- 
pleted which they are allowed to sink into the sea to rest. The 
deities created the first men out of trees — Ask (the ash), and Embia 
(the alder). Odin gave them life and soul, Honir endowed them 
with intellect, and Lodur with blood and colour. 

In the dark caverns of the earth the Black-Dwarfs, or Elves of 
Darkness, creep about and m a ke artistic utens ils for the divine 
. ^sir. the Ases, by whom they were crea ted. The Elves of Light 
on the contrary, have their dwelling-place in the heavenly realms. 
The latter are pure and good, while the former are often wily and 
treacherous, but still are not bad enough to be the companions of 


the wicked giants (known as the Jotuns), who continually fight 
against both g ods and man. As we learn from the myths which 
follow, two horrible monsters are allied with these giants, and they 
are to help to decide the Last Battle. They are the Fenris-Wolf 
and the Midgard-Snake, which latter, lying at the bottom of the 
sea, encircles the earth (the dwelling-place of the living) ; and they 
are abetted by direful Hel, the goddess-queen of the country of 
the dead._ 

Hidden or chained in the depths out of sight, these monsters 
await their time. In like manner dark Surtur, with his flaming 
sword, and the fiery sons of Muspel, lie in ambush in the hot south 
country. They are preparing themselves for the decisive battle, 
when heaven and earth, gods and man, are all to pass away. 

Odin; Wodan, Wuotan. — The scene changes; the separate 
figures of the gods stand out in their characteristic forms as 
northern imagination and Germanic poets have created them in 
the likeness of their heroes. First of these is Wodan, the Odin of 
Southern Germany, th e god of battles, armed with his war-spear 
Gungnir, the death-giving lightning-flash, and followed by the 
Walkyries, the choosers of the dead, who consecrate the fallen 
heroes with a kiss, and bear them away to the halls of the gods, 
where they enjoy the feasts of the blessed. In the very earliest 
times all Germanic races prayed^to Wodan for victory, as we shall 
see further on. He it is who rushes through the air in the midst of 
the howling storm, with his tumultuous host, the Wild Hunt, fol- 
lowing after him. In the arms of Gunlod he quafis Odrorir, the 
draught of inspiration, and shares it with the seers and bards, and 
with those warriors who, for the sake of freedom and fatherland, 
have thrown themselves into the fiery death of battle. Trusting in 
his wisdom, he goes to Wafthrudnir, to take part in that contest in 
which the fighting consists of the clash of intellect against intellect 
in enigmatical speech, and he is victorious in this dangerous combat. 


Later, he invents the Runes, through which he gains the power 
of understanding, penetrating and ruling all things. Thus he 
becomes the Spirit of Nature, — he becomes Allfather. 

Frigga, or Freya, and her Handmaids Next to Odin appears 

Frigga, the^mother of the gods, seated on her throne Hlidskialf 
Amongst the Germans she was looked upon as the same as Frea, 
the northern Freya, and was worshipped as the all-nourishing 
mother Earth. Three divine maidens form the household of the 
goddess ; her favourite attendant Fulla or Plenty, helps her to 
dress, and carries her jewel-case after her ; the undaunted horse- 
woman Gna, bears her orders to all parts of the nine worlds ; and 
the faithful Hlyn protects her votaries. Frigga holds council with 
her husband regarding the fate of the world, or sits in her hall 
Fensal, with her handmaids, and spins golden thread with 
which to reward the diligence of men. In later traditions she 
is sometimes represented as a cunning housewife gaining all her 
ends by craft ; but in the old legends she is uniformly represented 
under the names of Holda and Berchta, as the benefactress of man- 
kind. She furthers agriculture, law and order, apportions the 
fields, consecrates the land-marks, keeps and takes care of the 
souls of unborn children in her lovely gardens under the streams 
andjakes, and takes back there the souls of those who die young, 
that their mothers may cease to weep. As Holda or Dame 
Gode, she appears as a mighty huntress, devoted to the noble pur- 
suit of the chase. The maidens of the northern Freya are called 
Siofna, the lady of sighs ; Lofna, whose work it is to bring lovers 
together in spite of every obstacle ; and the wise Wara, who listens 
to the desire of each human heart, and avenges every breach of 

Thor or Thunar, whose turn it now is to be described, is the 
ideal of the German peasant, as untiring at work as in eating and 
drinking ; open-hearted, therefore^ often deceived, but when made 



aware of the deception that has been practised on him, terrible in 
his wrath, and overthrowing his opponent with fierce and mighty- 
blows. He receives Miolnir, the storm-hammer, from the dwarfs 
who made it for him : he c onquers Alwis, the all-wise, in a battle 
of w ords. The giant Hrungnir pays for his temerity in challenging 
him to fight, with a broken head. When deceived by Utgard-Loki's 
magic, it is only want of opportunity, not of power, that prevents 
him taking vengeance. When he goes to the ice-giant Hymir to 
get the cauldron for brewing the beer for the feasts of the gods, he 
appears in all the fulness of his god-like power. Enveloped in 
Freya's bridal raiment, he gets back the stolen hammer from the 
mountain-giant Thrym, destroys the whole race of giants in Thrym- 
heim, and makes the place over to his hard-working peasantry to 
till. He does the same at Geirodsgard after having overthrown 
the wily Geirod. Although not to be withstood in his anger, he is 
yet mild and gracious when with his hammer he is fixing the land- 
marks, sanctifying the marriage bond, or consecrating the funeral- 
pile. Then he is the god who blesses law and order and every 
pious custom. For this reason he was deeply reverenced in all 
German and Scandinavian lands, and it is only the later skalds, 
as is seen in the Harbard lay, that make his glory less than that of 
the hero-god Odin. 

Tyr, Tius, or Zio. — And now, tall and slender as a pine, brave 
Tyr comes forward. He has only one hand ; for when the terrible 
Fenris-Wolf grew so powerful that he even threatened the gods 
themselves in Asgard, Tyr ventured to chain him up with bonds 
that could not be unloosed, and in so doing lost his hand. He 
bears a swo rd as his proper bad ge, f or he is the god of war. The 
German people held him in high honour under the name of Tius 
or Zio. 

Heru, Cheru or Saxnot. — Another naked sword flashes on the 
wooded heights in the land of the Cherusci ; it is the weapon of 


the sword-god Heru, Cheru or Saxnot, who some think is no other 
than Tyr. Of this weapon Saga tells us that it causes the de- 
struction of its possessor, should he be unworthy of owning it ; but 
that in the hand of a hero it brings victory and sovereignty. 

Heimdal or Riger. — The third sword-god is known as Heimdal 
or Riger ; he always appears with his sword girded to his side, and 
is the watchman stationed at the Bridge Bifrost to protect Asgard. 
He lives on his heavenly hill near the bridge, and drinks sweet 
mead all day. The faintest sounds are heard by him, and his 
piercing gaze penetrates even rocks and forests to the farthest 
distance. Then aga in he goes out into the world of men, and 
makes laws and ordinances. He blesses the human race, and 
keeps clear and visible the line of demarcation between the differ- 
ent classes. 

Brag! and Iduna.'— Heimdal is born of nine mothers, the wave- 
maidens, and Bragi also, the god of poetry, rises upon the waves 
from the depths of the sea. Nature receives him with rejoicing, and 
the blooming Iduna marries the divine bard. She accompanies 
him to Asgard, where she gives the gods every morning the apples_ 
of e ternal youth. 

The Wanes, Niorder, Freyer, Freya — The Wanes are probably 
a race of gods who were worshipped by the earlier inhabitants of 
Germany and Scandinavia. Their war with the gods points back 
to the battles fought between these people and the invading 
Germanic races. At the conclusion of peace, the Prince of men, 
Niorder, his son bright Freyer, and his daughter Freya, are given 
as hostages to the gods, who on their side give up Mimir and Honir 
to the Wanes. These Wanes rise to high_ honour and receive 
wide-spread adoration. 

Fate, Norns, Hel, Walkyries — Orlog, Fate, a Po wer im possible 
to avoid or gainsay, rules oyer gods andjnen ; it is impersonal, and 
bestows its gifts blindly. Out of the dense darkness surrounding 


it on every side, it also comes forth in visible shape as Regin, and 
guides and rules all things, and sometimes in the form of the 
gods, determines the life and actions of mortals. The Norns come 
out of the unkno wn di stance enveloped in a dark veil, to the Ash. 
Yggdras il. They sprinkle it daily with water from the Fountain 
of Urd, that it may not wither, but remain green and fresh and 
strong. Urd, the eldest of the three sisters, gazes thoughtfully into 
the Past, Werdandi into the Present, and Skuld into the Future, 
which is either rich in h ope o r dark with tears. Thus they make 
known the decrees of Orlog, or Fate; for out of the past and 
present the events and actions of the future are born. Da rk 
inscrutable Hel holds s way dee p down in Helheim and Nif elheim. 
According to most ancient tradition she was once the earth-mother 
who watches over life and growth, and who finally calls the weary 
pilgrim home to her through the land of death. 

In the poems of the skalds she becomes the dark, terrible Queen 
of the Realm of Shades, who brought death into the world. She has, 
however, no power over the course of battles where brave men 
struggle for the honour of victory. There O din's W is h-maidens, the 
Walkyries, rule and determine the fate of the combatants. Armed 
with helmet and shield, they ride on white cloud horses to choose 
their warriors as the Father of the gods has commanded them. 
They consecrate the fallen heroes with the kiss of death, and bear 
them away to Walhalla to the feast of the Einheriar. 

Ogir and his companions. ^^Ogir or Hler moves about on 
the stormy seas accompanied by his wife Ran. Ogir is of the 
race of giants, but lives in friendly alliance with the gods. His 
comrades are the Mumel-king, the wonderful player, and the 
nixies, necks, and water-sprites. ^ _ -^ 

Loki, the father of terrible Hel, the Fenris-Wolf and Midgard- 
Snake ; Loki, the crafty god who is ever devising evil, now steals 
forward that we may observe his corrupt practices and his real 


character. In primeval times he was Odin's brother by blood, the 
god_oflife-givirig^warmthLand_ in particular of the indispensable 
household fire. As a destructive conflagration arises from a hidden 
spark which gradually increases in strength and volume, until at 
last it bursts out furiously and consumes the house and all that it 
contains, thus, as we shall show later on, the conception of Loki 
was developed in the minds of these old races, until he was at last 
held to be the corrupt er of the gods, the principle of evil. 

The other Gods. — As regards the other gods, the silent Widar, 
son of Odin, first appears, armed with a sword and wearing iron 
shoes. Joyfully he hears the prophecy of the Norns, that he should 
on a future day avenge his father by killing the destroying wolf, 
and that he would afterwards live for ever in blissful peace in the 
renewed world. Then comes Hermodur, the swift messenger of 
the gods, who fulfils his office at a sign from Odin. Another 
avenger, the blooming Wali, is received with acclamation when 
he enters the halls of Odin, for he is the son of Odin and the 
northern Rinda, is chosen to avenge bright Baldur the well-be- 
loved, and to give the deadly blow which shall send dark Hodur 
down to the realms of Hel. So th e story brings us to Baldur, the 
giver o f all g ood, and to Hodur, who rules over the darkness. The 
myth tells us how both fought for the sake of the lovely Nanna, 
and how the former received his death wound by magic art. His 
son Forseti, who resembles his father in holiness and righteousness, 
is the upholder of eternal law. The myth shows him to us seated 
on a throne teaching the Northern Frisians the benefits of law, 
and surrounded by his twelve judges, all of whom are somewhat 
like him both in face and form. 

The Golden Age.— From this brief glance at the individual 
gods we pass on to the description of the events which concern 
these divinities as a whole, and which lead up to the epic poems in 
which they figure. The golden age, the time of innocence, is next 


to be described, when the lust for gold was as yet unknown, when 
the gods played with golden disks, and no passion disturbed the 
rapture of mere existence. All this lasts till Gullweig (Gold- 
ore), the bewitching enchantress, comes, who, thrice cast into the 
fire, arises each time more beautiful than before, and fills the souls 
of gods and men with unappeasable longing. Then the Norns, 
the Past, Present and Future, enter into being, and the blessed 
peace of childhood's dreams passes away, and sin comes into 
existence with all its evil consequences. 

Sin. — The poems of the skalds give another account of the 
way in which sin makes its first appearance. The gods wish 
to have a strong wall of fortification round their Asgard, to pro- 
tect it against the assaults of the Jotuns, the giants. Acting 
on Loki's advice, they swear by a holy oath to give the sun 
and moon, and even Freya herself, the goddess of grace and 
beauty, to an unknown builder, on condition that he finishes the 
wall in the course of one winter. The master-builder turns out to 
be a Hrimthurse (Frost-giant), who, with the help of his horse, 
seems about to finish the high wall of ice, the sides of which are 
as smooth as polished steel, within the allotted time. If the bar- 
gain were to hold good, darkness would envelop the world, and 
sweetness and love would disappear from life ; so the gods com- 
mand Loki, as he values his head, to tell them what to do. He 
outwits the giant by means of treachery and magic, and Thor pays 
the master-builder in blows of his hammer. Thus the gods break 
their oath, and inexpiable guilt re sts upori them. 

Iduna's departure. — Evil portents precede the coming horrors. 
Iduna, the distributor of the apples of immortal youth, sinks from 
her bright home amid the boughs of the Ash Yggdrasil, into the 
gloomy depths below. She can only weep when the messengers 
ask her the meaning of her leaving them. Bragi remains with 
her, for with youth, games and song also pass away. 


Baldur's death The day of judgment approaches, and new 

signs bear witness of its coming. Baldur, the holy one, who alone 
is w ithout sin, has terrible dreams. Hel appears to him in his 
sleep, and signs to him to come to her. Odin rides through the 
dark valleys which lead to the realm of shades, that he may 
enquire of the dead what the future will bring forth. His incanta- 
tions call the long deceased Wala out of her grave, and she foretells 
what he has already feared, Baldur's death. Whereupon Frigga, 
who is much troubled in spirit, entreats all creatures and all lifeless 
t hings to sw ear that they^will not injure the Well-beloved. But she 
overlooks one, the weak mistletoe-bough. Crafty Loki discovers 
this omission. When the gods in boisterous play throw their 
weapons at Baldur, all of which turn aside from striking his holy 
body, Loki gives blind Hodur the fatal bough, which he has made 
into a dart. He guides the direction of the blow, and the murder 
is committed — Baldur lies stabbed to the heart on the bloodstained 
sward. Peace a nd joy, righteousness and holiness disappear with 
him. For this reason the gods and men, and even the dwarfs who 
fear the light, the elves in their caverns, and the malicious race 
of giants weep for him. They all assemble round his funeral pile. 
Two corpses are stretched on the litter ; for Nanna, Baldur's beau- 
tiful bride, has died of a broken heart. When the sunny-hearted 
god of light dies, the flowers must also wither. At Odin's com- 
mand Hermodur rides along the road leading to Hel's dominions, 
to entreat the terrible goddess to permit the return of the Well- 
beloved. He finds Baldur and Nanna seated at a table on which 
are placed cups of mead, but they leave the foaming draught un- 
touched ; they sit there as silent and sad as the other flitting 
shades, which glide past them like misty phantoms. The dreadful 
queen of the realm of the dead is seated on her throne, grave and 
silent. This is her reply to Hermodur's message : " If every crea- 
ture weeps for the Beloved he shall return to the upper world, 


otherwise he must remain in his place." The messenger of the 
gods brings back this answer. Every creature weeps for her son at 
Frigga's entreaty ; but one giantess alone, dwelling in an obscure 
cleft in a rock, refrains from weeping, and so Baldur remains in 
Hel's possession. But vengeance has yet to be executed on the 
god who lives in darkness, and that duty is fulfilled by Wall, who 
kills strong Hodur with his darts. Wall is the god of spring, who 
destroys dark gloomy winter ; he is the risen Baldur. 

dgir's banquet. — The northern poems, apparently to break 
the course of these tragic events, now lead us to Ogir's palace , 
where the gods are assembled to hold a joyous feast after a long 
period of mourning. The hall is brilliantly lighted by the golden 
radiance of the treasures of the deep, and the tankards are full 
of foaming beer or mead ; but the bard no longer sings to the 
music of the harp. Instead of that, Loki forces his way into the 
assembly ; he does not now hide his wickedness under the cloak 
of hypocrisy, but openly boasts of what he has done. As the evil- 
doer amongst men does not become a villain or a hardened 
criminal all at once, but gradually ascends the ladder of wicked- 
ness step by step until he reaches the summit, so it is with Loki ; 
at first his actions are beneficial and good, then he begins to 
give bad advice ; after that he plots against the general peace, 
steals a costly treasure, and pitilessly works to bring about murder. 
At last he shows his diabolical nature without disguise, when, 
throwing aside the veil of hypocrisy, he hurls invectives at the 
gods, and openly acknowledges his horrible deeds of wickedness. 
The appearance of Thor forces him to take flight, and he barely 
escapes the dread hammer of the god. 

Loki in chains. — The murderer of Baldur, the blasphemer of_ 
t he gods, can n ot r emain un punis hed. In vain he conceals himself 
in a solitary house on a distant mountain, in vain he takes the 
form of a salmon and hides himself under a waterfall, for the 


avengers catch him in a peculiar net which he had formerly in- 
vented for the destruction of others. The37_bind him to the sharp 
ledge of a rock with the sinews of his son, which are changed into 
iron chains. A snake drops poison upon his face, making him yell 
with pain, and the earth quakes with his convulsive tremblings. 
His faithful wife Sigyn catches the poison in a cup ; but still it 
drops upon him whenever the vessel is full. 

Ragnarok. — The destroyer lies in chains on the sharp ledge of 
rock ; but he is not bound for ever. When the salutary bonds of 
law are broken, when discipline and morality, uprightness and the 
fear of God vanish, destruction comes upon states and nations. 
This is what is to happen at the time of which the legend now 
tells us. Nothing good or holy is respected. Falsehood, perjury, 
fratricidal wars, earthquakes, Fimbul- Winter (such severe winter as 
was never known before), are to be the signs that the end of the 
world is near. | The sun and moon will be extinguished by their 
pursuers, the stars fall from the heavens, Yggdrasil will tremble, 
all chains be broken, and Loki and his dread sons be freed. 
Then the fiery sons of Muspel with dark Surtur at their head come 
from the South, and the giants from the East ; the last battle shall 
be fought on the field of Wigrid. There the enemy's forces are 
drawn up in battle array, and thither Odin goes to meet them with 
his host of gods, and his band of Einheriar. And now the moun- 
tains fall down, the abyss yawns showing the very realms of Hel, 
the heavens split open and are lost in chaos, the chief warriors, 
the strong, are all slain in that deadly fight. Surtur, terrible to 
look upon, raises himself to the very sky ; he flings his fiery darts 
upon the earth, and the universe is all burnt up. Our forefathers' 
conceptions as to the last battle, the single combats of the strong, 
the burning of the world, are all to be learnt from ancient tradi- 
tions, as we find them described in the poems of the skalds. 

The Renewal of the World. — The myth compensates for the 



tragic end of the divine drama by concluding with a description 
of the renewal of the world. The earth rises green and blooming 
out of its ruin, as soon as it has been thoroughly purged from sin, 
refined and restored by fire. The gods assemble on the plains of 
Ida, the gods Widar and Wall are there, with Magni and Modi, 
the sons of Thor, who bring with them their father's Miolnir, a 
weapon no longer used for striking, but only for consecrating what 
is right and holy. They are joined by Baldur and Hodur, who 

From the drawing of a Bra/tmiti. 

are now reconciled, and united in brotherly love. Human beings 
are also to be found there, Lif and Lifthrasir, who, hidden in 
Hoddmimir's wood, dreamed the dreams of childhood, while the 
horrors of the last battle were taking place, and who, beings pure 
and innocent and free from sinful desires, are permitted to enter 
the world where peace now reigns. 
We have thought it requisite, for the better understanding of our 


history, to throw a cursory glance over t^ whole , of , t|ie great 
/ drama, which describes to us the creation, prime, fall, destruction, 
I and restoration of the world and the gods. The separate parts of 
the drama are not always connected with one another ; they have 
grown up gradually in the course of centuries, and therefore are 
not calculated to fit into each other. Sometimes, indeed, they 
are in complete opposition to each other ; yet in spite of this, one 
fundamental idea runs through all myths : we find in all that sin 
causes univer sal destruction, and that theworld, purified by fire, 
ri ses again more beaut iful and gloriousjtlianbefore. We have 
classified the myths as much as possible in accordance with this 
leading idea, and have also added their interpretations. 

A good many parts of the Edda have, most likely, arisen in the 
land of the Cherusci, in Osning or Asening, and have been founded 
on songs in honour of the gods and heroes worshipped there. 
Moreover, it is an undoubted fact that the Northern skalds trans- 
lated those songs, changing partially their form, and incorporating 
them with their own poems, so that the whole gained a northern 


Step out of the misty veil 
Which darkly winds round thee ; 
Step out of the olden days, 
Thou great Divinity ! 
Across thy mental vision 
Passes the godly host, 
That Bragi's melodies 
Made Asgard's proudest boast. 

(See accompanying verses). 


There rise the sounds of music 

From harp strings sweet and clear, 

Wonderfully enchanting 

To the receiving ear. 

Thou wast it, thou hast carried 

Sagas of northern fame, 

Did'st boldly strike the harp strings 

Of old skalds ; just the same 

Thou spann'st the bridge of Bifrost, 

The pathway of the gods ; — 

O name the mighty heroes, 

Draw pictures of the gods ! 

Let the reader now follow us into the world of Germanic gods, 
giants, dwarfs, apd heroes. These fairy tales are not senseless 
stories written for the amusement of the idle ; they embody tlie 
profound religion of our forefathers, which excited them to brave 
deeds, inspired them with strength and courage enough to shatter 
the Roman Empire, and to set up a new order of things in its stead. 
But when four hundred years after their dreadful battles against 
Germanicus, the Teutons victoriously entered their new country, 
the old faith had already faded, and they exchanged without 
difficulty their hero-god for St. Martin or the archangel Michael, 
and their Thunar for St. Peter or St. Oswald. The Saxons alone, 
in whose land the much revered holy places were to be found, 
clung to their gods, and when they were afterwards conquered by 
Charles the Great, some of them fled the country, carried their old 
religion to their northern brothers, and preserved it, until, at the 
time of the Wiking wars, it lost its glory in Scandinavia, and fell 
before the preaching of the Cross. 



T N the beginning was a great abyss ; neither day nor night 
-^ existed ; the abyss was Ginnungagap, the yawning gulf, without 
beginning, without end. Allfather, the Uncreated, the Unseen, 
dwelt in the depth of the abyss and willed, and what he willed 
came into being. Towards the north, in immeasurable space where 
dwell darkness and icy cold, arose Nifelheim (the Home of the 
Mists), and to the south was Muspelheim (the Home of Brightness), 
fiery, glowing with intense heat The spring Hwergelmir (the 
seething cauldron) sprang into life in Nifelheim, and out of it flowed 
twelve and more infernal streams (Eliwagar) with their ice-cold 
waters. The dreadful cold soon froze the waters, and blocks 
of ice rolled over and under each other through the boundless 
gulf towards the south and Muspelheim. In the air above, the 
storms roared from Nifelheim, rooting up the icebergs ; while 
from the Home of Brightness rays of beneficent heat poured forth 
over Ginnungagap, and when the great blocks of ice began to melt 
under the influence of this warmth, and drops of water to form and 
run down their sides, then it was that life first showed itself, and 
there arose a monster, the giant Ymir, or Qrgelmir (seething clay). 


terrible to look upon. From him are descended the Hrimthurses 
or Frost-giants. 

The warm rays awakened more life in the waters. The cow 
Audumla, the nourisher, came into being ; from her flowed four 
streams of milk which fed the dreadful Ymir and his children, the 
Hrimthurses. But she had nothing to graze on except the salt 
of the ice-rocks, which she licked. On the first day after she had 
licked the rock, a head of hair was visible ; on the second day, the 
whole head ; and on the third, the rest of the body, beautiful and 
glorious of limb. This was now Buri (the Producer), who had a 
son named Bor (born), and Bor married Bestla, daughter of the 
Hrimthurses, by whom he had three sons, Odin (spirit). Will (will) 
and We (holy). 

After this, war was made on the violent Ymir, and the sons of 
Bor slew him, and flung his great body into Ginnungagap, which 
was filled with it. But the blood of the monster flowed out cover- 
ing all things, so that there was a great flood (Deluge) in which the 
Hrimthurses were drowned. One of them alone, the wise Ber- 
gelmir, saved himself and his wife from destruction by taking 
refuge in a cunningly made boat, and he became the father of 
the race of giants. This is the northern version of the story of 

Space was now void and drear, as we learn from an ancient 
German lay : — 

" I regarded among men as the greatest of wonders, 
That the earth was not, nor yet the firmament, 
Nor was there yet a tree, nor mountain, nor even sunshine, 
Nor moon so radiant, nor ever a mighty sea." 

The new rulers, who called themselves Ases, i.e., pillars and 
supports of the world, did not like this state of things at all. So 
they began to create as Allfather willed that they should. They 
made the earth of Ymir's body, the sea of his sweat, the hills 



of his bones, and the trees of his curly hair. Of his skull they 
made the firmament, and of his brain the clouds which float 
below. Then, out of the giant's eyebrows the gods formed Mid- 
gard (Middle-garden), the dwelling-place of the children of men, 
who as yet unborn slept in the lap of time. 

Darkness reigned throughout space ; only a few fiery sparks 
from Muspelheim wandered aimlessly through the air; the sun 
did not know her place, nor the moon his* course, nor did the stars 
know where they were to stand. But the gods collected the sparks. 

made them into stars and fastened them in the firmament. They 
created the chariot of the sun, harnessed to it the horse Arwaker 
(Early-waker), which was driven by the maiden Sol ; she was 
rapidly followed by the shining moon drawn by the horse Alswider 
(All-swift), bridled and managed by the beautiful boy Mani, 
Mother Night talked lovingly to Mani as she preceded him on her 
dark horse Hrimfaxi (Frost-mane), whilst her son Day followed 
her with his bright Skinfaxi (Shining-mane). 

* In German the sun is feminine, tlie moon masculine. 


Creatures of all sorts crept like maggots in and out of Ymir's 
body and bones. The gods therefore consulted together as to 
what was best to be done, and they thought that their wisest 
course would be to change these creatures into a useful people. 
So they at once changed them into Dwarfs and Trolls, who were 
gifted with a wonderful knowledge of minerals and stones of all 
kinds, and an extraordinary power of working in metals. One 
class of dwarfs was of dark complexion, cunning and treacherous ; 
the other was fair, good and useful to gods and men. Three 
mighty gods once left the place where the Thing or council was 

held ; they were Odin, Honir or Hahnir (the Bright One) and 
Lodur. While wandering over the face of the earth, which was 
green with grass and with the juicy leek, they found two human 
forms lying near the shore, Ask (the ash), and Embla (the alder), 
both of whom were without power or sense, motionless, colourless. 
Odin gave them souls ; Honir, motion and the senses ; and Lodur, 
blood and blooming complexions. From these two are descended 
all the numerous races of men. 

Allfather dwelt in the deep and willed, and what he willed came 


to pass. Then the ash Yggdrasil grew up, the tree of the universe, 
of time and of life. The boughs stretched out into heaven ; its 
highest point, Larad (peace-giver) overshadowed Walhalla, the hall 
of the heroes. Its three roots reached down to dark Hel, to Jotun- 
heim the land ot the Hrimthurses, and to Midgard the dwelling- 
place of the children of men. The World-tree was ever-green, for 
the fateful Norns sprinkled it daily with the water of life from the 
fountain of Urd which flowed in Midgard. But the goat Heidrun, 
from whom was obtained the mead that nourished the heroes, and 
the stag Eikthyrnir browsed upon the leaf-buds, and upon the 
bark of the tree, while the roots down below are gnawed by the 
dragon Nidhogg and innummerable worms : still the ash could 
not wither until the Last Battle should be fought, where life, time 
and the world were all to pass away. So the eagle sang its song 
of Creation and Destruction on the highest branch of the tree. 

This is what a skald, a Northern bard, related to the warriors 
who were resting from the fatigue of fighting, by tables of mead. 
He and his comrades, intoxicated with the divine mead of enthu- 
siasm, used to tell these stories to the listening people. The 
myths were founded on the belief of the Norse people regarding 
the creation of the world, gods and men, and as such we find them 
preserved in the Songs of the Edda. At the same time the cata- 
strophe is hinted at by which, in the opinion of these races, the great 
world-drama was to end. It is true that many unlovely and even 
coarse ideas are to be found mixed up with the rest, and that they 
cannot be compared with the beautiful fancies of Hellenic poetry ; 
but the drama as a whole is grand and philosophical, and had its 
birth in that heroic spirit which forced the Teutons and Northern 
Wikings out into their battles of life or death. We have also the 
idea ot Allfather, the unquestionable original cause of all things, 
though he is scarcely more than mentioned in the poems. This idea 
came more prominently forward in later times, but could not grow 



to its full proportions, because the preaching of the Gospel soon 
afterwards did away with the old faith. Whilst struggling against 
the horrors of a northern climate and sending out armies into 
distant land, the Teutons fixed their eyes on certain aspects of 
nature, and could not rise to distinct conceptions of the Eternal. 
Still this idea lay originally at the foundation of the Northern 
religion, and the kindred Aryan race in India developed and 
exhibited it in a wonderful and poetical manner. 

Neither in the one case nor in the other, did the myths arise 
complete and perfect in the minds of these kindred people in the 
form in which we read them in the ancient documents. They 
needed a long time, a long period of development, before they 
appeared as regular myths or mythical tales. We must try to 
make clear to ourselves the process of the formation and develop- 
ment of the myth. Nations, like individuals, have their childhood, 
youth, prime and old ^e. In their childhood they cannot look 
upon the inexplicable facts and manifestations of the forces 
of nature, and on those of their own soul, otherwise than under 
certain forms. Nature, on which they feel themselves dependent, 
seems to them a Personality possessed of thought, will and per- 
ception. Nature is the Divinity they worship ; she is the Self- 
existent Power of the Indian Aryans, the Eros of the Hellenes in 
their earliest home by the Acherusian Lake, and the Allfather 
who dwelt less clearly in the mind of the Germanic races. Amongst 
the Greeks the first departure from their earliest religious con- 
ceptions was the deification of Gaia, the all-nourishing earth ; 
amongst the Hindus and Teutons, it was that of the shining firma- 
ment with its stars, its moon, its life-giving sun and its clouds with 
their refreshing rains. 

The vague notion of a deity who created and ruled over all 
things had its rise in the impression made upon the human mind 
by the unity of nature, but was soon overcome by that produced 


by certain particular aspects of nature. Tlie sun, moon and stars, 
clouds and mists, storms and tempests, appeared to be higher 
powers, and took distinct forms in the imagination of man. The 
sun was regarded now as a fiery bird which flew across the sky, 
BOW as a horse and now as a chariot and horses ; the clouds were 
cows from whose udders the fruitful rain poured down, or nursing 
mothers, or heavenly streams and lakes ; the storm-wind appeared 
as a gigantic eagle that stirred the air by the flapping of his great 
wings. As the phenomena of nature seemed to resemble animals 
either in outward form or in action, they were represented under 
the figure of animals. The beast which does not think, and 
which yet acts in accordance with some incomprehensible impulse, 
appears to be something extraordinary, something divine. 

After riper consideration, it was discovered that man alone was 
gifted with the higher mental powers. It was therefore acknow- 
ledged that the figure of an animal was an improper representation 
of a divine being. Thus in inverted relation to that described in 
Holy Writ, when " God created man in His own image, in the 
image of God created He him," men now made the gods in their 
own likeness, but at the same time regarded them as greater, more 
beautiful and more ideal than themselves. 

The monotheistic idea of Allfather, which formed the basis of the 
Germanic religion, soon gave place to that of a trilogy, consisting 
at first of Odin, Wili and We, and afterwards of Odin, Honir and 
Lodur. From these proceed the twelve gods of heaven, and they 
again are associated with many other divinities. 

Polytheism has its origin in a variety of causes. The primarj' 
reason for it is to be found in the numerous qualities attributed to 
each one god, and also in his varying spheres of action. Hence 
the many additional names bestowed upon him. In course of time 
his identity with nature is forgotten, and people grow accustomed 
to accept his attributes as so many separate personalities. Thus, 


for instance, the powerful storm-god Wodan, the Northern Odin, 
was regarded as the highest god, the king of heaven. He it was 
who inspired both warlike and poetical enthusiasm. But still, the 
dispossessed king of heaven, Tyr, was worshipped as the god of 
war, while the art of poetry was placed under the protection of the 
divine Bragi, who was unknown in earlier times. Freya, the god- 
dess of beauty and love, was essentially the same as the goddess 
of Earth, yet the German Nerthus and the Northern Jord and 
Rinda were honoured as such ; from Freya was also derived Frigg, 
the queen of heaven, who was raised to the position of Odin's 
lawful wife. Another cause of the increase of the number of 
divinities is attributable to the vast extent of country over which 
the great Germanic race was spread, viz., over Germany, Scan- 
dinavia, and far away to the east amongst the Russian steppes. 
The numerous tribes into which the race was divided was another 
circumstance in favour of polytheism. These tribes preserved their 
language and their faith as a whole, but each had its own distinc- 
tive peculiarities and its own particular tribal god. They were 
sometimes communicated to other tribes, and in times of war the 
conquerors either dethroned the gods of the vanquished or else 
accepted them in addition to their own. 

The divine kingdom as described in the legends of the 
gods and heroes. — After the gods, the giants and the dwarfs 
had become personalities capable of free action ; they were supposed 
to have stood in human relation to each other. They were given 
family ties and were finally brought under the laws of a divine 
kingdom. As people had now forgotten that the origin of the gods 
was to be found in the phenomena of nature, other motives for 
their fate and actions had to be sought, and thus the myth was 
added to, was made of wider significance, and its former meaning 
completely altered. 

During the centuries that were necessary to bring about this 


development, there had been many changes in the fortunes of the 
Germanic tribes. They had destroyed the Roman empire, and 
had made their dwelling amongst its ruins. After that the proud 
victors bent their heads beneath the Cross, and accepted the 
Christian faith. Then the teaching of the Cross gradually made 
its way into Germany, the home of these warlike tribes ; the 
messengers who brought it endeavoured to root out all relics of 
heathenism, and when preaching was of no avail, the power of the 
already converted ruler was brought into play. Thus was the old 
religion expunged from Germany proper. Still remnants of it are 
to be found in popular customs and traditions, and in a few 
fragmentary writings which suffice to show us the connection 
between the religion of our fathers and that preserved in the 
northern mythology. 

It was different in the north, in Scandinavia. The preachers of 
the Gospel did not make their way there until much later. In that 
land the warlike chieftains dwelt in their towers and castles 
surrounded by their retainers, drinking sweet mead and beer, or 
the foreign wine they had brought home from their campaigns. 
There the victorious warriors delighted to tell of their adventurous 
voyages and Wiking raids, of battles with ice-giants, with winds 
and waves, and with the men of the south. There the skalds 
sang their lays in honour of the gods and heroes, and formed the 
myths into an artistic whole, a world-drama, which a happy chance 
has preserved to us. How this was done we shall now proceed to 

In the tenth century Harald Harfager (fair hair) was ac- 
knowledged King of the whole realm of Norway. Many of the 
Jarls and Princes, who had formerly been independent rulers, were 
too proud to bear the yoke of the conqueror, and set out in search 
of other homes. The brave Rollo and his followers conquered 
Normandy and Brittany in France, others of the emigrants settled 


in the Shetland and Faroe islands, while others again under Ingulf 
and Horleif landed on the inhospitable coasts of Iceland, and 
cultivated and peopled the island as far as its severe climate would 
permit. These people carried with them from their native land the 
old songs of the skalds, which the fathers sang to their sons, and ' 
the sons again to their sons, passing them on to each new genera- 
tion as a most precious heritage. It is true that Christianity was 
introduced into Iceland towards the end of the tenth century, but 
before that time the people had preserved the songs of their fore- 
fathers, first by means of very imperfect runes, and then by the 
use of letters which had been brought to them from other lands, 
besides which the Christian priests, who were mostly Icelanders, 
were far from wishing to destroy the old tales. Many of them went 
so far as to listen to the songs of the people and afterwards write 
them down, and thus these treasures were saved from oblivion both 
in Iceland and in the Faroe islands. It is believed that the learned 
Icelander, Sasmund the Wise (a.D. 1056-1133), compiled the Elder 
Edda, the first collection of these old songs, partly from oral tradi- 
tion and partly from imperfect runic writings which had been copied 
in Latin characters. This collection, which is called Saemund's 
Edda after its supposed compiler, contains first in the Woluspa 
(Song of Wala) the mythical account given by the northern imagi- 
nation of the creation of the world, of giants, of gods, of dwarfs, and 
of men ; then there is a description of the Last Battle and of the 
destruction and renewal of the world ; after that come songs about 
the adventures and journeys of the individual gods, and lastly ^ 
others are given in honour of the Heroes, especially the Niflungs, 
Sigurd the slayer of the dragon Fafnir, and so on. The Younger 
Edda, a collection of the same kind, is supposed to have been 
compiled by Bishop Snorri Sturlason (a.D. 1178-1241), and for 
that reason generally goes by the name of the Snorra-Edda. It is 
for the most part written in prose, and serves as a commentary on 



the Elder Edda, but was originally meant more particularly for the 
instruction of the Icelandic skalds. 

The Runic language and characters The word r^na really 

means " secret " ; runes are therefore " mysterious signs requiring 
an interpretation." The shape of the letters leads to the supposi- 
tion that they were formed in imitation of the Phoenician alphabet. 
It is clear that the runes were, from various causes, regarded even 
in Germany proper as full of mystery and endowed with super- 
natural power. 

After Ulphilas made a new alphabet for the Goths in the fourth 
century by ingeniously uniting the form of the Greek letters to 
that of a runic alphabet consisting of twenty-five letters which 
was nearly related to that of the Anglo-Saxons ; the runes 
gradually died out more and more, and as Christianity spread, the 
Roman alphabet was introduced in place of the oici Germanic 

The runes appear to have served less as a mode of writing than 
as a help to the memory ; they were principally used to note down 
a train of thought, to preserve wise sayings and prophecies, and 
the remembrance of particular deeds and memorable occurrences. 
Tacitus informs us that it was also customary to cut beech twigs 
into small pieces and then throw them on a cloth which had been 
previously spread out for the purpose, and afterwards to read future 
events by means of the signs accidentally formed by the bits of 
wood as they lay on the cloth. 

The heroic lays of the old time have died out, and the runes 
have with few exceptions been rooted out of our fatherland by 
priestly zeal which looked upon them as magical. Our knowledge 
of the full-toned, powerful language of our ancestors is therefore 
very imperfect. But we know that it belonged to the great Aryan 
branch, and was thus related to the noblest of the Aryan lan- 
guages, the Sanscrit or holy tongue, and was rich in inflexions. 


In the Chinese and Indo-Chinese languages the ancient poverty of 
expression is still to be found, and even at the present day we 
find in them monosyllabic roots placed next to each other with 
hardly a connecting link ; in the Turanian language of Central 
Asia the people have endeavoured to express the association of 
their ideas by the use of suffixes, but these suffixes are in them- 
selves complete words, and thus the combination is as distinctly 
visible as the separate strokes of the brush in a bad painting. The 
language ot the Teutonic race had already got beyond that point 
before the different tribes set out on their wanderings in search of 
a new home. The added words had fused with the others, and 
were capable of expressing an unbroken current of thought. The 
language had been developed by means of the Sagas and songs 
which had been handed down amongst the people from generation 
to generation. 


' I "HE three fatal sisters played 
-*- a prominent part in many 
German tales. They used to 
watch over springs of water, and 
to appear by the cradle of many a royal infant to give it presents. 
On such occasions two of them were generally friendly to the 
child, while the third prophesied evil concerning it. Sometimes 
the Norns were supposed to be one, and then they were called 

36 ■ 


Urd ; but they were oftener looked upon as many, especially as 
the twelve Urds. In the pretty story of the "Sleeping Beauty" 
thirteen fairies appear. The king invited twelve of them to the 
birthday feast given in honour of his little daughter. Eleven had 
endowed the child with intelligence, beauty, wealth, and other good 
gifts, when suddenly a thirteenth fairy entered unbidden and or- 
dained that the princess should die early of the prick of a spindle. 
The twelfth now came forward and took some of the bitterness 
out of the terrible prophecy by saying that the girl should not 
die, but should fall into a sleep of a hundred years' duration, out 
of which she should at last awake when the right hour for setting 
her free should strike. This hour came when a young hero forced 
his way through the thorn hedge that surrounded her, and awoke 
the sleeper with a kiss of love. 

Urd or Wurd is also connected with Hel, the goddess of death : 
for the Past, being dead, falls into the nether world. Hel herself 
appears in the story as the Norn who span the irrefragable thread 
of fate, and in the German version of the tale in which the fatal 
sisters appear, she was the bad fairy whose name. Held, betrays 
her identity with the goddess. 

The origin of the Norns is wrapped in mystery; while the 
dwarfs, who are at times somewhat difficult to distinguish from the 
elves, were, as we have seen, created by the gods. 



«ii^^'f^ 1 


Three kinds of dwarfs existed 
in northern mythology, Mod- 
sognir's folk, Durin's band, and 
Dwalin's confederacy of Lofar's 
race. Lofar is perhaps the same 
as Loki, the fire-god, for all the 
dwarfs needed his help in their 
subterranean labours. In the 
old German poems we often 
find descriptions of dwarf-kings, who ruled over underground 
realms, and the Norse nations regarded Modsognir's and Durin's 
people as especially great and powerful, more, however, from their 


miraculous strength and knowledge of magic than from their 
having rule over any definite territory. The ideas respecting these 
deformed and gobhn-like creatures, some writers state, are con- 
nected with the appearance of the Phoenicians in the North. 
Wherever these roving merchants went, they always endeavoured 
to get at the raw products of the countries they visited. They 
fished for the purple mussel on the shores of Greece and Asia 
Minor ; they dug for gold in the rich auriferous veins they found 
in Lemnos, where a volcanic mountain was looked upon as 
the forge of Hephaestos, and also in the island of Thasos, and in 
the Pangean mountains. They mined for silver in Spain, in 
which country old shafts and passages, mining implements and 
even vaulted underground chapels have been discovered. In 
Ireland they dug for silver, in England for the much esteemed 
tin-ore, and in the North also, they undoubtedly worked in the 
mines, and had furnaces and smithies above ground for smelting 
and forging the minerals they obtained. It was very natural 
that a barbarous people should imagine the existence of the 
Kobolds, when they heard the noise of working and hammering, 
and saw the sooty figures of what seemed to be a short, weakly 
race emerging from the earth. They regarded the strangers as 
mighty and powerful, because their minds were deeply impressed 
by their magical surroundings, and by the excellent weapons, 
beautiful ornaments, and delicately fashioned works of art they 
made in their flaming furnaces. The shrewd craftsmen must often 
have brought disaster upon the simple-minded barbarians by their 
deceit and cunning, and the dwarfs were therefore considered false 
and treacherous, and every one was warned against their malice. 

These features, however, might with equal probability apply to 
the former inhabitants of the country who had been dispossessed 
by the Germanic invaders, perhaps even better than to the Phoe- 
nicians. These people were of a much weaker race than their 


conquerors ; they took refuge in lake-dwellings or in subterranean 
caverns, hid in the mines they themselves had made, forged utensils 
of all sorts, and often over-reached their invaders by the sharpness 
of their wits. 

Poetry created out of these dwellers in holes and caves of the 
rock those fantastic beings called Dwarfs and Black-Elves, because 
they were black and grimy, and because they rummaged in the 
dark places of the earth, did smith's work, were learned in the 
black art, and treacherous. The gloomy world in which they lived 
was called the Home of the Black-Elves. 

In Germany they were known under the same name, but 
slightly altered in form. Their ruler in the middle ages was 
King Goldemar, whose brother Alberich or Elberich, and the sly, 
thievish Elbegast, were even more celebrated in poetry than he. 
In England, these are represented by the light airy elves, who 
danced their rounds on the hill-sides and in the valleys, but who 
love best to haunt lonely green woodlands and groves, and here 
King Oberon and Queen Titania had their invisible palaces and 
gardens, to which men sometimes found the way, and of which 
they related the wonders to believing multitudes after their return. 
Whoever has a touch of poetry in his soul, and is in the habit of 
wandering through the woods in the still summer evening, can 
even now-a-days see the mist-like forms of the little people danc- 
ing merrily in the openings of the wood or by the banks of the 
murmuring brook. 

Equally celebrated in tales. and legends is Number Nip, the 
mighty king of the Riesengebirge, of whose power many strange 
tales were told ; until at last modern enlightenment forced him to 
retreat into his underground realm. 

The Light-Elves were different from the Black-Elves. They 
lived in the Home of the Light-Elves, were fair and good, and 
somewhat resembled the elves, but were not so airy or ethereal 


as the spirits of the later fairy-world. There are no myths about 
these kindly beings, which is a clear proof that the difference 
between the Black and Light-Elves was originally unknown. 

The elves were popularly believed to be spirit-like beings, who 
were deeply versed in magic lore, and who had charge of the 
growth of plants. Some of them lived under the earth and others 
in the water; they often entered into friendly alliance with 
mortals, and demanded their help in many of their difficulties, 
handsomely rewarding all who assisted them. They were not 
always ugly to look upon ; indeed, their beauty was sometimes 
extraordinary, and whenever they showed themselves amongst 
men, they used to wear splendid ornaments of gold and precious 
stones. If ever any one of mortal birth approached them, while 
they were dancing their rounds at midnight in the light of the full 
moon, they would draw him within their circle, and he never re- 
turned again to his people. The dwarfs and elves possessed rings 
by means of which they discovered and gained for themselves the 
treasures of the earth ; they gave their friends magic rings which 
brought good-luck to the owner as long as they were carefully 
preserved; but the loss of them was attended with unspeakable 

A Polish count once received a ring of this kind from a tiny 
mannikin, whom he had allowed to celebrate his marriage festivities 
in the state rooms of his castle. With this jewel on his finger he 
was lucky in all his undertakings ; his estates prospered ; his 
wealth became enormous. His son enjoyed the same good for- 
tune, and his grandson also, who both uiherited the talisman in 
turn. The last heir gained a prince's coronet and fought with 
distinction in the Polish army. He accidentally lost the ring while 
at play, and could never recover it, although he offered thousands 
of sovereigns for its restoration. From that moment his luck 
forsook him : locusts devoured his harvest ; earthquakes destroyed 


his castles. It even seemed as if the disasters of his native land 
were connected with his, for the Russians now made good their 
entrance into the country, and when Suwarrow stormed Praga, the 
unhappy prince received a sabre-cut over one of his eyes. When 
somewhat recovered, but quite disfigured by his wound and almost 
in as wretched plight as a beggar, he reached his ancestral castle, 
and there he was crushed to death under the falling building on 
the very first night. Exactly a hundred years had elapsed since 
that fateful hour in which his ancestor had placed his halls at the 
disposal of the underground spirit ! 

Besides these rings, the dwarfs and wights, like the elves, had 
other valuable possessions, such as hoods of darkness, by means of 
which the mannikins became invisible, and girdles that made the 
wearer supremely beautiful. 

This was the reason why so many noble knights were over- 
mastered by love for beautiful elf-women ; but the marriages 
which were thus contracted had always a sad ending, because the 
natures of husband and wife were too dissimilar, and because there 
can be no real bond between men and spirits. For the elves were 
also regarded as the souls of the dead, and it was therefore 
impossible that any alliance formed by them with the living could 
be happy. 


To the traveller passing through some desolate valley in the 
dusk or in a fog, the rocks jutting out from amongst the woods or 
ravines at his side seem to take strange, fantastic shapes. Not 
less spectral than these is the uncertain outline of the mountain 
tops, and especially of the bare granite or basaltic horns of rock 
which are scattered in great number over the face of the earth. In 
the old time, when man was more susceptible to impressions made 
by the life and working of nature, when he peopled the wilderness 


with the creatures of his own fancy, those dead stones appeared 
to him as living beings, moving about busily in the grey mist, 
endowed in the dusk or moonlight with magic powers and 
approaching him as giants and monsters, but which were once 
more turned into stone as soon as they were touched by the first 
rays of the morning light. 

These figures grew far more monstrous, far more weird in the 
great Alpine ranges and in Scandinavia. There the peaks, the 
ridges, and the ravines are covered with eternal ice and snow ; 
there the swollen, destructive mountain-torrents, growing glaciers, 
falling rocks and thundering avalanches, were regarded as the 
work of the infernal powers, the rime and frost-giants of 
northern legends. These evil beings are also to be found in the 
lower ranges of mountains. The Riesengebirge owe their name to 
them, while the Harz mountains were haunted by the Harz spirit 
and other demons. 

Nearly related to these were the spirits of the storms and 
tempests, who came out of their dwellings in the clefts of the hills, 
massed up the storm-clouds, and spread destruction over the fields. 
The raging sea also was sometimes regarded as a giant, sometimes 
as a huge snake which encircled Midgard. As a snake they 
likewise personified those waters, which, breaking down the 
artificial breast-work man had built for their restraint, dashed and 
roared over the fruitful plains, engulfing towns, villages and their 
inhabitants in their course. The giant Logi (Flame), with his 
children and kindred, finally made themselves known as the 
authors of every great conflagration, when they might be seen in 
the midst of the flames, their heads crowned with chaplets of 
fire. These demons were all enemies of man, they strove to 
hinder his work and to destroy what he had made. 

For the elements are hostile 

To the work of human hand. — Schiller, 



Men therefore sought to propitiate them in ancient times by 
offering them sacrifices, and consecrating altars and holy places to 
them, until the moral powers, the gods, rose and fought against 
them and their worship, but did not succeed in rooting them out 
of the minds of the people. In the Greek myth, the rude destruc- 
tive powers of nature, which were personified in the Titans and 
Giants, were completely overcome and abandoned ; but in the 


North, where these forces are more wild and terrible, the struggle 
lasted until the Fire-giant Surtur, together with the sons of 
Muspel, set out for the Last Battle to destroy gods, men and 
worlds, and make place for a better order of things. 

The legends of the giants and dragons were developed gradually, 
like all myths. At first natural objects were looked upon as 
identical with these strange beings, then the rocks and chasms 



became their dwelling-places, and finally they were regarded as 
distinct personalities, and had their own kingdom of Jotunheim. 
They showed themselves now in this place, now in that, and met 
gods and heroes in peace and in war. Perhaps they were not 
originally held to be wicked and altogether hostile, for springs and 
brooks flowed out of the earth for the refreshment of man and 
beast. They watered the fields so that they bore rich harvests ; 
storms purified the air ; the sea was an open roadway for ships, 
and the household fire, or the spirit which dwelt in it, was the 


most cheering companion of the Northman during his long winter 
evenings. But the thinking, ordering gods took their place, and 
then they only appeared as the wild unbridled forces of nature, 
against which man had to strive with the help of the heavenly 

In the North the giants were called Jotuns, signifying the 
voracious ones, and perhaps connected with the name of a 
German tribe, the Jiiten, that chased the aborigines out of Jut- 
land. They were also called Thurses, i.e. the thirsty, the great 


drinkers. In Germany the giants were named Hiinen, after their 
old enemies, the Huns. In Westphalia the gigantic grave-mounds 
and sacrificial places belonging to heathen times, that are to be 
found by the Weser and Elbe, are designated Huns' beds ; 
and in the same way we recognise the Huns' rings. These are 
circular stone-walls, intended to enclose holy objects and con- 
secrated spots of ground, in like manner as the dwellings of the 
gods are described in the Edda as surrounded by a fence or 

Here in conclusion let us relate a myth made up of two kindred 
stories put together. We can still recognise the natural phe- 
nomena in the names. 

From the first giant, Ymir, were descended three mighty sons : 
Kari (air, storm), Hler (sea), and Logi (fire). Kari was the father 
of a numerous race, and his most powerful descendant, Frosti, 
ruled over a great empire in the far north. Now Frosti often made 
raids and incursions into neighbouring states, and on one occasion 
he went to Finland, where King Snar (snow) reigned. There he 
saw the king's daughter, fair Mioll (shining snow), and at once fell 
in love with her. But the haughty monarch refused him the hand 
of the maiden. He therefore sent a message to her secretly to 
tell her : " Frosti loves thee, and will share his throne with thee." 
To which she replied : " I love him also, and will await his coming 
by the sea-shore." Frosti appeared at the appointed time and took 
his bride in his strong arms. Meanwhile the plot had been dis- 
covered ; Snar's fighting men lay in ambush to attack the lovers, 
and shot innumerable arrows at the bold warrior. But Frosti 
laughed at them all ; the arrows fell from his silver armour like 
blunted needles, his storm horse broke through the ranks of the 
enemy and bore the lovers safely over the sea and over mountains 
and valleys to their Northern realm. 



" Nine homes I know, and branches nine, 
Growing from out the stalwart tree 
Down in the deep abyss." 

This is the saying of Wala the prophetess, who sang of the 
creation, of the gods, and of the destruction of the world. She 
describes the Ash Yggdrasil as if the homes or worlds grew out 
of it like branches. Still the nine worlds are never enumerated 
in succession or in their full number, but are only to be dis- 
tinguished by their characteristics. 

In the centre of the universe the gods placed Midgard, the 
dwelling-place of man, and poured the sea all round it like a 
snake. They fortified it against the assaults of the sea and the 
inroads of the giants, by building a wall for its defence. The 
giants lived far away by the sea-shore in Jotunheim or Utgard, 
the giants' world. Above the earth was Wanaheim, the home of 
the wise shining Wanes, whom we shall describe further on. 
The Home of the Black-Elves was to be found under the earth, 
perhaps in those gloomy vales that led to the river which 
separated the realm of the dead from that of the living. This 
kingdom of the dead, Helheim, surrounded the Northern Mist- 
world, Nifelheim. 

To the south was Muspelheim, where Surtur ruled with his 
flaming sword, and where the sons of Muspel lived. Over Mid- 
gard in the sunny aether was the Home of the Light-Elves, the 
friends of gods and men. Over the earth also, but higher than 
the Home of the Light-Elves, the gods founded their strong king- 
dom of Asgard, which shone with gold and precious stones, and 
where eternal spring reigned. The broad river Ifing divided the 
home of the gods from that of the Jotuns, but was not sufficient 
protection against the incursions of the giants, who were learned 
in magic. 


The gods built themselves castles in Asgard, and halls that 
shone with gold. It is recorded that there were twelve such 
heavenly palaces, but the poems differ from each other in de- 
scribing them. 

High above Asgard was HHdskialf (swaying gate), the throne of 
Odin, whence the all-ruling Father looked down upon the worlds 
and watched the doings of men, elves and giants. The palaces 
of the Ases were ; Bilskirnir, the dwelling of Thor, 540 stories 
high and situated in his province of Thrudheim ; Ydalir (yew- 
vale), where Uller, the brave bowman, lived ; Walaskialf, the 
silver halls of Wall ; Sokwabek, the dwelling of Saga (goddess 
of history), of which the Edda tells us : " Cool waters always flow 
over it, and in it Odin and Saga drink day after day out of golden 
beakers." In this palace the holy goddess Saga lived, and sang 
of the deeds of gods and heroes. She sang to the sound of the 
murmuring waters, until the flames of Surtur destroyed the nine 
homes and all the holy places. Then she rose and joined the 
faithful, who had escaped fire and sword, and fled with them to 
the North, to the inhabitants of Scandinavia. To these she sang 
in another tongue of the deeds of the Germanic heroes. But her 
songs did not pass away without leaving a trace behind ; some of 
them are probably preserved in the Edda, and remain a treasure 
of poetry which can never be lost. 

The fifth palace was called Gladsheim (shining-home) ; it be- 
longed to the Father of the gods, and contained Walhalla, the hall 
of the blessed heroes, with its 500 doors. The whole shining 
building was enclosed within the grove Glasir of golden foliage. 
Thrymheim (thunder-home), where Skadi, daughter of the mur- 
dured giant Thiassi, lived, was originally supposed to be in 
Jotunheim, but the poems place it in Asgard. 

Breidablick (wide out-look) was the dwelling of glorious Baldur, 
and in it no evil could be done. Heimdal, the watchman of the 


gods, lived in Himinbiorg (Heaven-hall), and there the blessed 
god drank sweet mead. Folkwang, the ninth castle, belonged to 
the mighty Freya. It was there that she brought her share of the 
fallen heroes from the field of battle. In Glitnir dwelt Forseti, 
the righteous, whose part it was to act as umpire, and smooth avvay 
all quarrels. Noatun was the castle of Nibrder, the prince of men 
and protector of wealth and ships. Saga recognised as the twelfth 
heavenly palace Landwidi (broad-land), the dwelling of the silent 
Widar, son of Odin, who avenged his father's death in the Last 

It is enough to say here regarding the mythological signification 
of these heavenly castles, that it is very probable that they were 
meant for the twelve constellations of the zodiac. For amongst 
these palaces none were allotted to the warrior god Tyr, nor do 
they count amongst their number Wingolf, the hall of the god- 
desses, or Fensal, the palace of Queen Frigga. According to this 
hypothesis the deities who possessed these twelve palaces were 
gods of the months. For instance, Uller, who lived at Ydalir, 
was the god of archery, and used to glide over the silvery ice-ways 
on skates. He ruled, in his quality of protector of the chase, 
when the sun passed over the constellation of Saggitarius in winter. 
Frey or Freya was called after him in the myth, and to him the 
gods gave, as a gift on his cutting his first tooth, the Home of the 
Light-Elves, which lies in the sun and is not to be found amongst 
the dwellings of Asgard. 

The sun-god was also reborn at the time of the winter solstice, 
as Day was in the North. The Yule-feast was therefore celebrated 
in honour of the growing light with banquets and wine ; Frey's 
boar was then sacrificed, and the drinking-horn was passed down 
the rows of guests. Wall's palace was, the story tells, covered 
with silver. By this the constellation of Aquarius was meant ; 
when the sun passes over that part of the heavens where this 




constellation rules, it is a splendid sight in the far North to see 
the silvery sheen of the snow that covers the mountains and 
valleys. We refrain from further discussion of this theme, for 
these are only hypotheses, and myths of deeper meaning are 
awaiting us. 




' I ""HE holy gods dwelt peace- 
-*- fully in their golden palaces 
and rejoiced in their power. 
The Walkyries, choosers of the 
dead, messengers of Odin, rode 
about in splendid armour on 
their white horses. They bore the hero-spirits they had taken from 
bloody battle-fields back with them to Asgard. On reaching the 
grove Glasir, they dismounted from their horses, and led the 
heroes under the shade of its golden foliage to Walhalla. There 

\xl W.'^^yp 


the mists of death passed from the eyes of the warriors ; they 
recognised the hall intended for them on seeing Odin's coat of 
arms, the wolf and the eagle. They saw the roof made of the 
shafts of spears covered with shields, and the seats spread with 
soft chain-mail. Weapons flashed as they entered, and foaming 
goblets were emptied in their honour by the great band of heroes, 
who had reached the halls of blessedness before them. And they 
drank of the sweet mead provided for them by the goat Heidrun, 
and feasted on the roasted flesh of the boar Sahrimnir, which was 
restored to life every evening, that it might again furnish a repast 
for the heroes on the following day. 

The ruling gods sat on twelve thrones, and highest amongst 
them was Odin in all his glory, his spear Gungnir in his right 
hand, and his golden helmet on his head. He was not now 
terrible to look upon, as when he led armies on to battle or when 
he hurled the death-spear over their ranks ; a gentle smile lighted 
up his face, for he rejoiced in the arrival of the noble warriors. 
Two pet wolves played at his feet and fawned upon him, when 
he threw them the food provided for himself at the board. For 
he needed no food to eat ; for him it was sufficient to drink of 
the blood-red wine, which refreshed and strengthened his mind. 
Then great Odin rose from the board, walked through the hall, 
and went to his throne Hlidskialf, all Asgard trembling beneath 
his tread. He seated himself, and gazed thoughtfully over the 
worlds. Far away in the distance gleamed Muspelheim, where 
dark Surtur, flame-girdled, and holding his fiery sword in his 
hand, watched his opportunity as yet in vain ; in Midgard were 
the mortal men ; in the depths below, the Dwarfs toiled and 
laboured. The mighty god's two ravens, Hugin (thought) and 
Munin (memory), flew quickly up to him ; they perched one on 
his right shoulder and the other on his left, and whispered in his 
ears the secrets they had heard during their flight through the 


worlds. Anxiously the monarch turned his gaze towards Jotun- 
heim, for things were going on there which threatened the general 


In the grey twilight enveloping the giants' world, the king 
recognised his old comrade Loki, with whom he had sworn 
brotherhood at the beginning of time. Loki had set up house 
in Jotunheim and had married the dreadful giantess Angurboda 
(bringer of anguish). They had three children, all horrible 
monsters : the Wolf Fenris, the Snake Jormungander, and terrible 
Hel, at the sight of whom all living creatures stiffened in death. 
One side of her face was of corpse-like pallor, and the other was 
dark as the grave. The young wolf was not less appalling to 
look upon, when he opened wide his blood-red jaws to devour the 
food his father offered him; nor the snake which wound itself 
round Angurboda as though desirous of crushing her to death in 
its coils. 

Allfather turned away from the horrible sight with a shudder 
of disgust, and saw his bright son Hermodur standing before him. 
Pointing down at Jotunheim, he desired him to bear his com- 
mands to the gods, that they should at once go and bring him the 
brood of giants. In obedience to the king's orders, the powerful 
gods at once arose, and with brave Tyr at their head, crossed the 
bridge Bifrost and the river Ifing, and so reached the inhospitable 
land of the Hrimthurses. 

Loki was beautiful like all the gods, but his heart was full of 
guile. They found hiin in the court-yard of his castle. He went 
on playing with his monstrous progeny, and took no notice of the 
messengers, until they approached quite close to him, and made 
known the commands of Odin. He would have refused to obey, 
but strong Tyr shook his fist threateningly, upon which he gave 


way, and followed them to Asgard, accompanied by his children. 
He was immediately brought before the king's throne. Terrible 
Hel grew visibly more gigantic, lightnings flashed from her deep- 
set eyes, and she stretched out her arms as though she wished 
to destroy the great Father. At the same moment Jormungander 
reared her head in the air, till she resembled a twisted column, 
gnashed her jaws and emitted a venomous foam, before which the 
very gods shrank back. But the king seized both monsters in his 
powerful arms, and flung them far out of Asgard into immeasur- 
able space. 

Hel sank nine days' journey past the bogs, morasses, and rocks 
of ice in Nifelheim, past the river GioU and down into the king- 
dom of Helheim, which was allotted to her, and where she hence- 
forth ruled over the dead. But the Snake fell into the ocean that 
flows round Midgard. Hidden in its depths, and unseen by gods 
and men, she was to grow, until, after having twisted herself into 
innumerable coils, her ugly head should touch- the tip of her tail. 
Then, at last, when the twilight of the gods (the judgment of the 
gods) should come to pass, she was again to rise, and help to 
bring about the destruction of the worlds. When the Wolf saw 
his playfellows flung out of Asgard, he began to howl so loiid, that 
his voice was heard over in Jotunheim. Yet he did not venture 
to resist, and great Tyr bore him away from before the face of the 
angry Father, away from the heavenly towers, to where the hills 
of Asgard slope towards Midgard ; there he brought him food 
every day. 

Odin still remained on Hlidskialf, thinking of all, caring for all. 
The gods stood silently around him ; but Loki slipped out of the 
circle unnoticed, and went out to plan more mischief Then the 
king pointed towards the south, where the sons of Muspel were 
moving about in the fiery heat like flashes of lightning, and where 
the dark giant Surtur was pointing his flaming sword up at the 


heavenly palaces. " Gird on your armour," said Allfather, " keep 
your swords drawn, ye faithful ones, for the day approaches when 
the heavens shall fall and the Destroyer shall come up from the 
South across Bifrost with his fiery hosts. The spirit of prophecy 
has come upon me, and I foresee that the monsters, whose power 
we have broken for the present, will one day join the Destroyer 
and fight against us. Up, brave ones ! Watch lest any sin defile 
the purity of the holy towers, for thus only can we ward off the 
hour of our destruction." 

Having said this, great Odin went on before his loyal subjects 
to Walhalla. 

Meanwhile the wicked race of giants remained hostile to the 
gods. They brooded over schemes for avenging the murder of 
their ancestor, Ymir. The warlike Hrungnir awaited his oppor- 
tunity in Jotunheim ; Thrym, who was hard as his native rocks, 
Thiassi and Geirod, who dwelt in proud castles, and other giants 
besides, were all armed for the fight, and often made onslaughts 
upon the hated gods. But Heimdal watched over the safety of 
Asgard, and strong Thor was always ready to go out and fight 
the monsters. 

This myth reveals to us in its deeper meaning, the ideas of these 
northern races respecting the struggle between good and evil 
in the world, the eternal warfare waged by the kingdom of light 
against the kingdom of darkness, by the mild beneficent powers 
of nature against those that are hurtful and destructive. The 
terrors of the long dark winter, or the dreadful snow-storms, of 
the wild mountain ranges with their glaciers, and of the tempes- 
tuous ocean, appeared in the imagination of the people to take the 
form of pernicious monsters intended to bring about the destruc- 
tion of the world. Thus Hel, the secret, healing goddess, who was 
originally the all-nourishing Mother Earth, became the goddess 
of death, a hideous monster the very sight of whom caused death ; 


the stormy sea, which according to the northern' idea encircled 
the round earth, was transformed to the Midgard-Snake ; the uni- 
versal destruction which was to come at the end of days was 
typified in the all-devourer, the Fenris-Wolf, who was to devour 
the Father of the world himself. It is striking, that Loki, who in 
earliertimes was looked upon as a beneficent being, as the god of 
fire, of the warming domestic hearth, is accounted one of the 
powers of evil in the foregoing legend, and that he grows even 
more diabolical in the later poems, in spite of the fact that fire is 
absolutely indispensable to the North-man. 

The first divine trilogy given us was that of the sons of Bor, i.e. 
Odin, Will and We ; and these correspond to the elements, air, 
water and fire. The last of the three gave the newly created 
human beings blood and blooming complexion ; he was therefore 
a beneficent god. Nevertheless he was also represented as a giant 
in the trilogy Kari, Ogir, and Logi, another form of air, sea and 
fire. That he belonged to the race of giants is proved from further 
evidence, by which it appears that his father was the giant Far- 
bauti (oarsman), and his mother the giantess Laufey (leafy isle), 
the former of whom was perhaps the giant who saved himself 
from the flood in a boat, and the latter, the island to which he 

At the beginning Loki was a helpful and a great god, as the 
pretty Faroe-island song of the Peasant and the Giant shows. He 
was not regarded as the principle of evil, until he had been com- 
pletely separated from the element to which he belonged, and had 
been developed into an independent personality. The idea of the 
destructive power of fire was equally connected with the giant 
Muspel; buthe never showed himself as an active agent of harm. 
His sons, the flames, alone threatened evil in Glow-heim or Muspel- 
heim, and finally mustered in great force for the Last Battle on 
the field of Wigrid. Their leader, however, was not Muspel, but 


dark Surtur (black smoke), out of which flashed a tongue of flame, 
like a shining sword. 

That these ideas were common to all the Germanic races is 
shown by some Bavarian and Saxon manuscripts of the 8th and 
9th centuries, which contain the mysterious word Muspel, as will 
be seen from the following translations : " Muspel's (world-fire's) 
power passes over man." "Muspel creeps in stealthily and sud- 
denly, like a thief in the darkness of night," " Then will a friend 
be of no profit to his friend because of Muspel, for even the broad 
ocean will be burnt up," viz. at the Last Day. 

This struggle was an eternal one ; it went on and on without 
being decided. But if the Aryans believed Ormuzd to be pure 
and spotless, the gods certainly were not so ; they were neither 
sinless nor immortal. Like the Grecian Herakles, they fought 
against harmful monsters ; they were victorious over them to a 
certain extent, but not entirely ; they sinned, and at last, like 
the Greek hero who burnt himself to death, they passed away 
in the universal fire that burnt up the world. These conceptions 
are peculiar to the Germanic races ; it is possible, however, that 
they brought the seeds of their grand poems from the common 
home of the Aryans, then developed and polished them in their 
own peculiar way, when settled in the land they had colonized, 
and when surrounded by the influences of a chmate and country 
favourable in some points and disadvantageous in others. 



/^NCE upon a time when, as tradition informs us, Swithiod 
^-^ (Sweden) still lay hidden under the sea, yawning chasms 
suddenly opened in the depths below, and swallowed up the waters 
until the land appeared. As soon as it was dry, the fowls of 
heaven brought there the seeds of all kinds of trees, grass and 
herbs. Then the face of the country grew green, and flowers 
sprang up and adorned it, so that it was brilliant to look upon, as 
the carpet in a king's banqueting hall. Animals of all sorts were 
there also, some of which were useful and serviceable to man, 
while others dwelt shyly hidden away in remote places ; and 
besides these there were wild beasts, such as bears, lynxes, and 
grim voracious wolves. 

Men afterwards settled down in Sweden, tilled the land and 
began to trade ; they spread themselves out over the country as 
they grew more numerous, and built villages, towns, and proud 
castles for the nobles. They were a warlike race. They fought 
against the wild beasts that lived in the forests, and against the 
marauding Jotuns and Trolls of the mountains. They were a free 
people and chose out the bravest of their heroes to be their leaders, 
Jarls and Princes, who protected the country from the inroads of 



any enemies who might venture to disturb the diligent husband- 
men in their toil. The mightiest of the Jarls was called King, and 
lived in the town of Sigthuna. 

No w K in g Gylphi once ruled ov er this people, who were greater 
in po wer, righteousnes s and wisdom t han any of the other nation s 
t hat dwelt in Midgard. Neither hostile armies nor robbers dared 
to cross the borders of the kingdom, and it was said that even the 
wild beasts refrained from harming any of the people, so much 
did they hold their chief in awe. Thus Gylphi ruled in undis- 
turbed peace, and had abundant leisure to indulge his thi rst after 
the hi^est knowledge and wisdom. He knew about the stars 
in the heavens ; he visited the dwarfs in the interior of the earth, 
from whom he learned how to discover veins of gold and how to 
work metals into household utensils, weapons and shining orna- 
ments. Moreover, he understood the art of using magic runes, 
by means of which he was able to get rid of snakes, to conjure up 
the spirits of the dead from their graves, and to change his form 
so as to escape recognition. He often feasted with his warriors, 
and together they drank mead and foaming ale. During these 
entertainments, skalds were always present to delight him and his 
heroes by the melody of their harps, and by their songs ; for he 
loved music above all things, and would rather have gone without 
food than it. 

The king once thrust his frothing cup from him impatiently, for 
the skalds who used to make his feasts pleasant to him had not 
come. Suddenly the sound of harp-playing was heard without ; 
so sweet that all hearts were filled with longing, and the chords 
vibrated as powerfully as if twelve skalds had assembled to tune 
their strings. The door opened, and a tall female figure entered 
the hall ; she was gentle and beautiful to look upon, and like a 
goddess in her bearing. Approaching the king she touched the 
harp-strings, and sang : 


In gruesome grave no knowledge grows ; 
Yet the king shall ken what things must come. 
High up to Heaven I raise my hymn, 
And louder and louder I let it sound. 

My wistful eyes watch Walkyries 
Wafting the warriors by weirdly kiss, 
From blood-stained field to blessed rest. 
Where night and death are never known. 

And I see here in the lofty hall 
The hosts of heroes who with their lord 
Shall wander to Walhall, the battle won, 
And meet the maidens' melodious hail. 

They soar in silence on wingfed steeds. 
Alighting on grave-grounds, green with pines, 
And singing lays of the light and love 
That e'er abide in Odin's Home. 

Gloomy and sad the song began, like a voice from the grave ; 
but the music grew, deeper and fuller as it went on to praise the 
fate of glorious warriors, and then again it sank soft and low as the 
whisper of the wind on a warm spring day, which tells of nature's 

Once more the figure repeated : " That e'er abide in Odin's 
Home," and as she did so, the notes of her harp were so sweet and 
thrilling, that the hearts of all the heroes present were filled with 
rapture, and they thought they saw the warrior-maidens who were 
to bear them to Walhalla. 

Deep silence reigned in the hall ; but as soon as the intoxication 
of the sounds, which had held their senses in thraldom, gradually 
passed off, the king rose from his seat, and said : " Speak, fair 
maiden, tell me thy name, and what guerdon thou askest for the 
song with which thou hast delighted us. Be it even to the half 
of Swithiod, it shall be thine, and this I swear by my kingly word." 

" Gefion, the Giver," she replied, " is what I was called by Ases 


and Jotuns, when I was young. If thou, indeed, desirest to reward 
me, I shall only ask thee to give me as much land as I can plough 
round with my four bulls in a day and a night." 

Gylphi was surprised that the maiden did not ask for a larger 
gift, and at oncefa.nted her^request. She took her departure, and 
soon afterwards returned, bringing with her four bulls, the like of 
which had never been seen in Swithiod before, so huge and well- 
formed were they. They were, in sooth, like moving mountains, 
and their white foreheads shone with the lustre of the full moon. 
They were harnessed to a plough with a hundred shares, which 
cut down into the lowest depths of the earth, and tore the soil 
away from its foundations. The bulls walked on dragging the 
ploughed land with them ; they waded into the sea with it, and 
Gefion, who drove them, grew before the eyes of the astonished 
king and people until she was so tall that the great waves, high as 
they were, reached only to her waist, and seemed to be but sport- 
ing with her knees. She went on without stopping day and night, 
and then at length the land she had taken away with her rested 
in a shallow place. She fastened it down firmly there, and called 
it Zealand (sea-land). Having done this, she stepped upon it 
followed by the four bulls, which at once raised themselves up, 
and touched by her lAagic spells were changed into four strong 
youths, for they were her sons by a giant. The beautiful island 
soon flourished under her care. Wooded hills, green pastures and 
rich corn-fields provided the numerous population of Zealand not 
only with food, but also with all the pleasures and comforts of life. 
Hledra, a splendid royal residence, was next built, and there 
Gefion lived, and exercised undisputed sway over her subjects. 
She married a man named Skiold, and became the mother of a 
long line of renowned kings. 




Now Gylphi heard of all these 
events in his town of Sigthuna, 
and he was filled with wonder 
how such things could be. He 
saw Lake Loger (now Maelar), 
which had taken the place of the 
land the bulls had dragged away with their plough. He heard from 
travellers that the promontories of Zealand running out into the 
sea had the same form as the bays of Lake Maelar in his own 
country. He knew that Gefion was of the race of the Ases, and 
he puzzled day and night over how they had come to be so power- 
ful. He enquired of the skalds and wise men of his kingdom, 


he consulted his runic signs ; but he gained no information from 
any of these regarding that which he wished to find out. As his 
longing after wisdom gave him no rest, he determined to set off 
on a journey in search of the land where the mighty Ases lived, 
even though the attempt to find it might cost him his life. His 
heart was set on making his way into Asgard that he might learn 
from its inhabitants of the creation and the end of the world, of 
the Ases' power and their mode of government, and of the fate 
of mankind, that he might afterwards make all these things known 
to mortal men. 

King Gylphi was learned in magic. He took the unpretentious 
form of a common traveller, and called himself Gangleri (weary 
wanderer). He walked on a long way through Midgard, until 
he at length reached a palace, the height and circumference of 
which he could not measure. When he entered the doorway, he 
saw a vast hall before him, whose length his eye could not pierce. 
He perceived other mansions to the right hand and to the left, 
each of which was crowned with turrets that shone like gold in 
the sunlight. There was a tree there also, whose top rose to the 
immeasurable skies, and whose branches seemed to spread out 
over the whole world. 

A man, playing with seven knives, was standing at the entrance 
of the palace. He threw them up into the air and caught them 
again so that they seemed to form a shining circle. He asked 
the traveller what he wanted ; Gylphi answered that his name 
was Gangleri, that he wished to have a night's lodging and to be 
admitted to the presence of the lord of the palace. 

"He is our king," replied the door-keeper; "follow me, and 
thou shalt see his face." 

Having said this, he preceded the traveller up the hall. 

There they saw many noble warriors assembled, who were 
amusing themselves, wassailing, playing and wrestling. Three 


men of venerable aspect were seated on thrones, one of which was 
higher than the other two, watching the games. 

"The first of these chieftains is Har (High)," said the guide, 
" the other is Jafenhar (Equally high), and the last is Thridi (the 

While he was still speaking, Har turned to the new-comer, 
and said : " Dost thou need food, stranger ; if so, thou wilt find 
abundant store in Har's hospitable hall. Sit down, and share oui 

Gangleri replied : " Higher than food and foaming beakers do I 
prize wisdom, which lifts the mind above earthly things. So I 
would fain find a wise man, who can answer my questions." 

"Ask," said the chieftain, "and thou shalt be answered. But 
beware thy head, for it is forfeited if thou provest thyself unwise." 

Gangleri drew nearer to the thrones, and began : " Who is the 
highest and the oldest of the gods, and what are his works and 
deeds that are niost worthy of man's admiration } " 

Har answered: "AUfather is his name in our tongue, but all 
the nations of the earth give him a different name, each in their 
own way. He is the highest and mightiest at all times, and rules 
over all things, the smallest as well as the greatest." 

Jafenhar went on : " He created heaven and earth, the sea and 
the air, and everything that lives and moves therein. He alone is 
the greatest Ruler." 

"The greatest and most glorious of his works," said Thridi, 
" was the creation of man, whose spirit, given by him, will live on, 
and will not die even when the body containing it is turned to 
dust. The good will live with him for ever in the place that is 
called Gimil, or Wingolf The wicked shall also live, but they 
will descend to Hel, or even to Nifelhel deep down below in the 
ninth world." 

After that, Gangleri asked many more questions regarding the 


creation and the end of the world, about the gods and their works, 
and about all the riddles of life, and he received answers and ex- 

But when he still went on enquiring further, the great hall 
suddenly burst with a terrible, loud crash, and in another moment 
everything had vanished. Gylphi found himself alone on a wide, 
desolate plain, where neither palace, tree nor shrub were to be 
seen. He set out at once on his homeward journey, and at last 
reached his own realm. There he related what he had seen and 
heard, and wise skalds sang of the marvellous things he had told 
them, and so knowledge grew and spread from land to land and 
from generation to generation, and did not die out of the memory 
of the people. 

We see from this, what idea the Northern people had formed 
of the way in which the divine revelation was made. The con- 
ception of Allfather and his works appears to us to be the most 
remarkable part of this story, and fully confirms what we have 
before said on this subject. 



" I ""HE prophetess Wola sat before the entrance of her cave, and 
-*- thought over the fate of the world. Her prophetic power 
enabled her to pierce bounds that are impenetrable to the human 
eye. She saw what was going on near her, what was taking place 
at a distance. She watched the labours and battles, the patient 
endurance and the victories of nations, and heroes. She saw how 
Allfather ruled the world, how he kept the giants in submission, 
how he flung the spear of death over the armies, and afterwards 
sent his Walkyries to bring to his hall those heroes who had 
fallen victoriously. Let us now turn our attention to what was 
revealed to her penetrating sight. 

Mother Night was driving in her dark chariot on her accustomed 
course above Midgard, bringing peaceful slumber to all creatures. 
The bright boy, Mani (Moon), followed quickly in her steps, and 
the gloomy mountains were bathed in the light he shed around. 
Down below in the valley, the maiden, Selke, was wandering 
beside a stream, which playfully rippled and murmured at the feet 
of its mistress, and then flowed on quickly, and dashing over the 
stones that barred its course, flung itself into the depth below. 
But Selke saw nothing of all this ; her eyes were fixed on the 
fountain from out of which the brook flowed, for there sat a 
woman wondrously beauteous of countenance, with long shining 
golden hair, looking down into the clear water in which her form 
was mirrored. After awhile she rose, and went higher up the 


steep side of the mountain to the place where grew the healing 
herbs that the goddess needed for the cure of wounds and sores. 

While employed in this peaceful task, the rocky door leading 
into the interior of the mountain suddenly opened, and a mon- 
strous giant came out from it No sooner did the fiend sight the 
lovely maiden than he rushed towards her with a wild yell. She 
fled, while he pursued her, as higher and higher she cUmbed, until 
at length she reached the summit of a lofty rock, which hung over 
the edge of a great abyss. The hunt-cry from the distance now 
fell upon her ear, and the baying of hounds, and she knew who 
was coming to her assistance ; but her pursuer drew nearer and 
nearer, and his icy talons almost grasped her neck ; boldly she 
ventured the tremendous leap — the ground was reached in safety. 

The mark of her foot is still to be seen on the rock, and the 
truth of this assertion can be verified by any one who chooses to go 
and look at the Maiden's Leap in the Selkethal (Harz Mountains). 

The giant saw her take the fearful spring, and, surprised, he 
hesitated for a moment ; but soon regaining courage, he rushed 
on and took the mighty leap after her. But, like a flash of light- 
ning, and accompanied by loud peals of thunder, a shining spear 
came flying through the air, and the monster fell with a crash 
dead into the deep abyss. 

The storm rose ; it howled through the wood, and Wodan's 
raging host, the Wild Hunt, rushed past. The great god's 
nightly following was composed of armed men, armed women and 
children, hounds and ravens and eagles; and he, the King, 
preceded them all on horseback ; together they stormed over the 
trembling fields and through the dark quaking forests. Ancient 
pines were broken down, rocks fell, and the mountains shook to 
their foundations, for the Father of Victory was on his way to a 
great battle. 

The King had far to go, and his horse had lost a shoe, which 


forced him to halt for a time. Master Olaf, the smith of Heligo- 
land, was still in his smithy at work in the midnight hour. A 
storm was howling round the house, and the sea was beating on 
the shore, when suddenly he heard a loud knocking at his gate. 

" Open quick and shoe my horse ; I have a long journey to 
make, and daybreak approaches." 

Master Olaf opened the door cautiously, and saw a stately rider 
standing beside a giant horse. His armour, shield, and helmet 
were black, a broad sword was hanging at his side, his horse shook 
its mane, champing the bit and pawing the ground impatiently. 

"Whither art thou going at this time of night, and in such 
haste } " asked the smith. 

" I left Norderney yesterday. It is a clear night, and I have no 
time to lose, as I must be in Norway before daybreak." 

" If thou hadst wings, I could believe thee," laughed the smith. 

" My horse is swift as the wind. But see, a star pales here and 
there ; so make thee haste, good smith." 

Master Olaf tried on the shoe. It was too small, but, lo ! it 
gradually grew and grew, until it had fastened itself round the 
hoof. The smith was awe-struck, but the rider mounted, and as 
he did so his sword rattled in its sheath. 

" Good-night, Master Olaf," he cried. " Thou hast shod Odin's 
horse right well, and now I hasten to the battle." 

The horse gallopped on over sea and land. A light shone round 
Odin's head and twelve eagles flew after him swiftly, but could 
not overtake him. He now began to sing in magic words of the 
stream of time, and the spirit that works in it, of birth, and of the 
passage to eternity. And all the time the storm-wind roared, and 
the waves dashed upon the shore, a harp-like accompaniment to 
the song. He who has ever heard that music straightway forgets 
his home and his cravings for the hearth. The sailor on the 
foaming water, the traveller in the valley and the shady grove. 


each feels it strangely stirring his soul, each longs to go out at once 
to Odin. 

The warriors were gathered together in the green-wood, armed 
for the combat ; the brave sons of King Eric of the bloody axe, 
who had lately fallen in battle, were there, and Hakon, too, his 
brother, the powerful king of Norway. All at once they heard 
sweet soft sounds in the air, like the sighing of the wind and the 
whisper of green leaves. Quickly the sounds grew louder, and the 
storm wind roared through the trees and over the assembled host. 
" Odin is coming," cried the warriors, " he is choosing his Einheriar." 
And then the Father of Battles came with his following ; he came 
in the storm that he might rule the combat. He halted high up 
above the armies in a grey sea of clouds. He called the Walkyries, 
Gondul and Skogul, before him, and bade them so to lead the 
chances of the fight, that the bravest should be victorious, and 
should then be received into the ranks of the Einheriar. 

He flung his spear over the contending heroes, and immediately 
the blast of horns and loud war-cries were heard. A cloud of 
arrows hissed through the air ; javelins and heavy battle-axes 
broke through helmet and shield ; swords were crossed in single 
combat ; blood streamed from innumerable wounds, reddened 
the armour of the men-at-arms and trickled down upon the flowers 
that carpeted the crimson ground. 

Foremost in the battle was King Hakon fighting with sword 
and spear. As he cut his way through the enemy's ranks over 
the fallen men, he heard the Walkyries talking beside him. They 
were in the midst of the strife, mounted on their white horses, 
holding their bright shields in front of them, and leaning upon 
their spears. 

" The army of the gods is waxing great," said Gondul, " for the 
Ases are preparing to welcome Hakon with a goodly train of 
followers to the glorious home." 


The King heard it, and asked : " Is it just that ye should 
reward me with death, instead of the victory for which I am 
striving with my might ? " 

Skogul answered : " We have decreed that thine enemies should 
give way before thee. Thou shalt win the battle, and then take 
thy part in the feast of the Einheriar. We will now ride on before 
thee, and announce that thou art coming to look upon the face of 
the Father of Victory himself." 

When King Hakon ascended to Asgard from the field of glory, 
Hermodur, the swift, and Bragi, the divine singer, went out to 
meet him, and said : " Thou shalt have the peace of the Einheriar ; 
receive therefore the draught prepared for the heroes of the Ases."' 
Hereupon the king's helmet and coat of mail were taken off, but 
he retained his sword and spear, that he might enter the presence 
of the Father of Victory with his arms in his hands. 

This was how the Northern skalds sang of the God of Battles, 
of the choosers of the dead, and of the fate of heroes. Is it then 
to be wondered at, that the princes and nobles of those races 
should have gone forth joyously on their bold Wiking raids, 
and that they should have esteemed a glorious death on the field 
of battle far better than to sink to inglorious rest at home .■• The 
German bards also sang after this fashion of their heroes ; hence 
the struggle against Rome which lasted four hundred years, and 
the Germanic raids upon Britain, Gaul, Italy, Spain, and even 
upon far Africa. The War-god sang his storm-song in their ears ; 
they heard the voices of the Walkyries through the din of the 
battle; they saw the gates of Walhalla open before them, and 
the Einheriar signing to them to approach. Therefore the day 
of battle was in their eyes either a feast of victory, or of entrance 
into the verdant home of the heroes. 

In the foregoing tale, the events of which have been derived 
from German and Norse sagas and lays, we have seen the chief 


god of the North as leader of the Wild Hunt, conqueror of the 
earth-born giant, god of the storm and ruler of the battle ; but we 
must try to get a still deeper insight into his nature. 

Wodan, Odin in the North, according to the oldest concep- 
tions. — Wodan was the highest and holiest god of the Germanic 
races. His name is connected with the German word Wuth, and 
used to be both spelt and pronounced Wuotan, which word did not 
then mean rage or wrath, as Wuth does now, but came from the 
Old-German watan, impf. wuot, i,e., to penetrate, to force one's way- 
through anything, to conquer all opposition. The modern German 
waten, and the English wade, are derived from the old word, 
though considerably restricted in meaning. Wuotan was there- 
fore the all-penetrating, all-conquering Spirit of Nature. The 
Longobards, by a letter-change, called him Gwodan ; the Franks, 
Godan or Gudan ; the Saxons, Wode ; and the Frisians, 
Woda. The Scandinavians called him Odin, from which the 
mythological name Odo was derived. He was known under 
the names of Muot (courage) and Wold by the South Germans. 
But everywhere he was regarded as the same great god, and was 
worshipped as such by the whole Germanic race. 

When man had freed himself from the power of the impressions 
made upon him by nature as a whole, he began to have a more 
distinct consciousness of certain manifestations of the forces of 
nature, and after that to pay them divine honours. He then 
regarded the storm which tore through the forests with irresistible 
violence, which blew down the cottages of the peasants, and 
wrecked vessels out at sea, as the ruler of all things, as the god 
whose anger must be appeased by prayers and sacrifices. At first 
he was worshipped under the form of a horse or of an eagle, as 
these were types of strength and swiftness. But when the mastery 
of the human race over the animal world was better understood, 
the god was endowed with a human form. He was described 


in the legends and stories, now as a mighty traveller who studied 
and tried the dispositions of men, and now as an old man with 
bald head, or with thick hair and a beatd which gained him in the 
North the name of Hrossharsgrani (horse-hair bearded). He had 
usually only one eye, for the heavens have but one sun, Wodan's 
eye. He wore a broad-brimmed hat pulled down low over his 
forehead, which represented the clouds that encircle the sun, and 
a blue mantle with golden spangles, i.e., the starry heavens. 
These attributes again prove him to have been the Spirit of 
Nature. In the completely developed myth regarding him in the 
Edda, he was described as being of grand heroic form, with a 
golden helmet on his head, and wearing a shining breast-plate of 
chain-mail. His golden ring Draupnir was on his arm, and his 
spear Gungnir in his right hand. Thus attired, he advanced to 
attack the Fenris-Wolf, when the Twilight of the Gods was 
beginning to fall ; thus attired, he sat on his throne Hlidskialf, 
wrapped in the folds of his mantle, and governed gods and men. 

There are many tales and traditions about Wodan in his original 
form of storm-god. They are to be found in Germany, England, 
France, and Scandinavia, which shows how wide-spread the 
worship of him was. Chief amongst the stories referring to 
the old Teutonic god are those of the Wild Hunt, and of the 
Raging Host. 

The Myths of the Wild Hunt and of the Raging Host.— 
These myths have their origin in the belief that the supreme One 
takes the souls of the dead to himself, carries them through the air 
with him, and makes them his followers on his journeys by night. 
As the Romans regarded Mercury as the leader of the dead, they 
thought that the Teutons also honoured him as the highest god. 
The soul was looked upon as aerial, because it was invisible like 
air. It was held that when a dying man had drawn his last 
breath, his soul passed out of him into the invisible element. Thus 


the Hebrews had the same word to express spirit and breath, and 
the old Caledonians, as Ossian's poems prove, heard the moans 
and loving words of their dead friends in the whisper of the breeze, 
in the soft murmur of the waves ; they felt that the invisible 
was near them, when a solitary star sent down its rays to them 
through the dusk of the evening. The idea of a god has no place 
in these poems. The Teutons, on the contrary, believed that it 
was the god himsel f who bore the spirits of the dead up into his 

The traditions of the Wcensjager, the Wild Huntsman, Wuotan's 
or the Raging Host, have their origin in heathen times, as their 
names show, although they have undergone considerable modifica- 
tions in many respects since then. They arose from the impres- 
sion made upon the people by phenomena that they could not 
understand, and which they consequently supposed were caused 
by some divinity. Every noise sounds strange and mysterious on 
a quiet night. The solitary traveller passing through forests or 
over heaths or mountains, when the light of the moon and stars 
was obscured by drifting clouds, heard the voices of spirits in the 
hooting of owls, in the creaking of branches, and in the roaring, 
whistling, and howling of the tempest, and his excited imagination 
made him think that he saw forms, which became the more 
distinct the more his superstitious fancy was drawn upon. Forest- 
rangers, solitary dwellers in remote places, especially charcoal- 
burners, who often spend long stretches of time without seeing 
a human being, tell strange stories even now-a-days. These tales 
are founded on the ancient beliefs of the race, are repeated by one 
man to another, and detached fragments of the old faith are still 
preserved by tradition. 

In Pomerania, Mecklenburg, and Ho lstein, Wode is said to be 
out hunting whenever th e stormy winds blow through the woods. 
In Western Hanover it is said to be the Woejager, in Saterland 


the Woinjager, and in other places, the Wild Huntsman that haunts 
the woods. He is supposed to ride on a white horse, to wear a 
broad-brimmed hat slouched over his forehead, and a wide cloak 
(the starry heavens) wrapped round his shoulders. This cloak has 
gained him the name of Hakel-barend (Mantel-wearing) in West- 
phalia. Indeed, the story has even been transferred from the 
divine to the human. 

It was said that Hans von Hakelberg, chief huntsman of the 
Duke of Brunswick, and an enthusiastic sportsman, liked hunting 
better than going to church, and used to devote his Sundays as 
well as week-days to this amusement, for which reason he was 
condemned to hunt for ever and ever with the storm. His grave 
is shown near the Klopperkrug, an inn not far from Goslar, and 
a picture of both him and his hounds is carved on the headstone 
of the grave. His burial place is also pointed out in the SoUinger 
wood, near Uslar. 

Wode seldom hunted alone. He was generally surrounded by 
a large pack of hounds, and accompanied by a number of hunts- 
men, who all rushed on driven by the storm, shouting and holloa- 
ing, in pursuit of a spectral boar or wild horse. He was also said 
to chase a spectral woman with snow-white breast, whom he could 
only catch once in seven years, and whom he bound across his 
saddle when he had at length succeeded in overtaking her. In 
Southern Germany it was a moss-woman or wood-maiden, a kind 
of dryad or wood-nymph, whom the Wild Huntsman pursued, 
and whom he bound to his horse in the same way as the other, 
when once he had caught her. Perhaps this story represents the 
autumnal wind blowing the leaves off the trees. 

When the people heard the Wild Huntsman approaching them 
they threw themselves upon their face on the ground, as otherwise 
they would have been in danger of being carried off by the hunts- 
men. The story tells us that this was the fate of a ploughman 


who was caught up by them and taken away to a hot country 
where black men lived. He did not come home again until 
many years afterwards. Whoever joined in the holloa of the 
wild huntsmen was given a stag's leg which became a lump of 
gold ; but whoever imitated the shout jeeringly had a horse's leg 
thrown to him, which gave out a pestiferous smell and stuck to the 
scoffer. A little dog was sometimes left on the hearth of a house 
through which the Wild Huntsman had gone. It immediately 
began to whine and howl miserably, so as to disturb the whole 
household. The people had then to get up and brew some beer in 
egg-shells, whereupon the creature would exclaim : " Although I 
am as old as the Bohemian Forest, I never saw such a thing in my 
life before." Then it would jump up, rush off and vanish. But if 
this charm was not applied, the people of the house were obliged 
to feed the creature well, and let it lie upon the hearth for a whole 
year, until Wode returned and took it away with him. 

The Wild Hunt generally went on in the sacred season, between 
Christmas and Twelfth Night. When its shouts were particularly 
loud and distinct, it was said that it was to be a fruitful year. At 
the time of the summer solstice, and when day and night become 
of equal length, the Wild Hunt again passed in the wind and rain, 
for Wodan was also lord of the rain, and used to ride on his cloud- 
horse, so that plentiful rains might refresh the earth. 

The traditions of the Raging Host much resemble those of the 
Wild Hunt. They are stories about the army of the dead under 
the leadership of Wodan. People thought they could distinguish 
men, women and children as the host passed them at night 
Those who had lately died were often seen in it, and sometimes 
the death of others was foretold by it. 

" Walther von Milene ! " cried out voices in that terrible army, 
and Walther, a celebrated warrior, was soon afterwards killed in 
battle. In this instance the story reminds us of Wish-father, the 


chooser of the dead, who called the Einheriar to his Walhalla ; and 
still more is this the case, when the Raging Host is described as 
rushing past like a troop of armed men, when knights and men-at- 
arms were seen in shining or even fiery armour, and mounted upon 
black horses, from whose nostrils shot forth sparks of flame. 
Then it was said that the war-cries of the combatants, the clash of 
arms and trampling of horses' feet, could be heard above the din 
of the storm. 

Wodan has long since died out of the minds of the people, yet 
his character and actions are clearly shown in tradition, and his 
name also appears in proverbial sayings, charms, and invocations. 
Seventy years ago the Mecklenburg farmers, after the harvest 
was brought home, used to give their labourers Wodel-beer, a 
feast at which there was plenty to eat and drink. The people 
poured out some of the beer upon the harvest field, drank some 
themselves, and then danced round the last remaining sheaf of 
corn, swinging their hats and singing : 

"W61d! W61d! W61d ! 
havenhune weit wat schiit, 
jumm hei dal van haven sut. 
Vulle kruken un sangen hat hei, 
upen holte wasst manigerlei : 
hei is nig barn un wert nig old. 
W61d! W61d! W61d!"* 

"Wold! Wold! Wold! 
The Heaven-Giant knows what happens here ; 
From Heaven downvifards he does peer. 
He has full pitchers and cans. 
In the wood grows many a thing. 
He ne'er was child, and ne'er grows old, 

Wold ! Wold ! Wold !" 

In Hesse and in Lippe-Schaumburg the harvesters stick a 

, * Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology," translated by J. S. Stallybrass, vol. i. 
p. ij6. (London : Sonnenschein & Allen.) 


bunch of flowers into the last sheaf, and beat their scythes to- 
gether, exclaiming, Waul ; in Steinhude they dance round a bon- 
fire they have lighted on a hill-top, and shout, Waude. In many 
parts of Bavaria they dance round a straw figure called Oanswald or 
Oswald (Ase Wodan). But the people have now quite forgotten 
the Ase and think only of St. Oswald. In these instances the 
god appears in his highest form as the god of heaven, the giver of 
good harvests. The Aargau riddle shows him as lord of the starry 
heavens, who raises the dead up to his bright mansions above : — 

" Der Muot mit dem Breithuot 
Hat mehr Gaste, als der Wald Tannenaste." 

" Muot with the broad hat 
Has more guests than the wood has fir-twigs.'' 

In England the Wild Hunt is called Herlething, from a mythi- 
cal king Herla, who was once invited by a dwarf to attend his 
marriage. He followed his entertainer into a mountain, and three 
hundred years elapsed before he and his attendants returned to 
the world. Amongst other parting gifts the dwarf gave him a 
beautiful dog, which the head huntsman was desired to take before 
him on his horse. At the same time every one was warned not to 
dismount until the dog jumped down. Several of the king's fol- 
lowers disregarded this, and got down from their horses ; but no 
sooner did they touch the ground than they crumbled away to 
dust. The dog is still sitting on the saddle bow, and the Wild 
Hunt is still going on. 

In the time of Henry II. it was said to have shown itself in a 
meadow in full daylight. The blowing of the horns and shouts of 
the hunters drew the people of the neighbourhood to the place. 
They recognised some of their dead friends among the huntsmen, 
but when they spoke to them, the whole train rose in the air, and 
vanished in the river Wye. 


In France, in Wales, and in Scotland, King Arthur is the leader 
of the Wild Hunt. In France, the Wild Hunt, or Raging Host, is 
called Mesnie Hellequin, the last word of which is evidently de- 
rived from Hal (kingdom of the dead), for the leader of the hunt 
is called the Hel-huntsman. According to other traditions, Charles 
the Great, Charlemagne, rides in front of the band, while strong 
Roland carries the banner. We recognise, moreover, the Raging 
Host (/'ar;«/«/«mai-^) under the name of Ckasse de Cain (Cain's 
Hunt), or Chasse d'H&ode (Hunt of Herodias, who caused the 
murder of John the Baptist). Perhaps, however, H6rode really 
means Hrodso (glory-bearer), one of the names by which Odin 
was known. Equally famous is k grand veneur de Fontainebleaii, 
(the great Huntsman of Fontainebleau), whose shouts were heard 
beside the royal palace the day before Henry IV. was murdered 
by Ravaillac. The Raging Host also passed over the heavens 
twice, darkening the sun, before the Revolution broke out. The 
populace everywhere believes that its appearance is the fore- 
shadowing of pestilence, or war, or of some other great misfortune. 


The legend of the Wild Huntsman has, as we have seen from 
the foregoing, been applied to human beings, and circumstance 
and place have been added to the tale. There was not always an 
infernal element clinging to the appearance of the Hunt, for 
emperors, kings, and celebrated heroes were amongst the repre- 
sentatives of the Father of the Gods. In Lausitz, Dieterbernet — 
in Altenburg, Berndietrich, the great Ostrogothic king Theoderick 
of Bern (Verona) was supposed to rush through the air, and vanish 
in the mountains. In the same way, according to the Northern 
myth, the Summer Odin, who brought green leaves and flowers, 
and ripened the golden ears of corn, used to wander away through 


dark roads in Autumn, and then a false Odin came, and seating 
himself on the other's throne, sent snowstorms over the wintry 
earth. Or, as another tale has it, the good god passed the period 
during which the imposter reigned, sunk in a deep enchanted sleep 
within a mountain. But no sooner did Spring return, than he rose 
again in his power, drove the intruder from his throne, and once 
more scattered his blessings over gods and men. 

These conceptions of Allfather, derived Irom natural phenomena, 
were so deeply impressed in the mind and very being of the 
Teutonic race, that they personified them by applying to their 
early kings and heroes the attributes of Odin. King Henry the 
Fowler, whose victories over the Slavs, Danes and Hungarians 
restored the power of the German empire, is supposed to be lying 
sunk in magic sleep in the Siidemer hill near Goslar. Amongst 
other sleeping heroes is Frederick Barbarossa, the story of whose 
death in the East is believed by no one, and who was and is still 
said to lie slumbering in Kyfihauser. 

There are a number of traditions about the ruins of Kyfifhauser 
and the great Hohenstaufe, who still lives in the memory of his 
people. The high castle-hill rises sheer above the green fields 
away over in Thuringia. On its western side, a tower is still in 
existence. It stands eighty feet high, although with broken walls, 
and overlooks the wood and piles of stone below. On solemn oc- 
casions the emperor is supposed to lead his processions thence, and 
afterwards to dine there with his followers. According to the 
legend, the weary old emperor sleeps his " long sleep " in an under- 
ground chamber of the castle, with the companions of his travels. 
Christian of Mayence, Rainald of Cologne, Otto of Wittelsbach, 
the ancestor of the royal house of Bavaria, and many others besides, 
Barbarossa's beard has grown round and through the stone table, 
casks of good old wine, treasures of gold, silver and precious 
stones are lying about in heaps, and a magic radiance lights up the 


high vaulted hall ; that this is the case is proved by many for- 
tunate eye-witnesses, who at different times have been permitted to 
enter the room. One of these was a herdsman, who left his cattle 
browsing amongst the ruins, and went to gather flowers for his 
sweetheart. He found a strange blue blossom, and no sooner had 
he put it in his nosegay than his eyes were opened, and he per- 
ceived an iron door that he had never seen before. It opened at 
his touch ; he went down a flight of stairs and entered the lighted 
banqueting hall. There he saw the heroes and their imperial 
leader sitting round the table, all sound asleep in their chairs. 

Barbarossa was awakened by the noise. " Are the ravens still 
flying round the battlements ? " he asked, looking up. 

The herdsman said that they were, and the emperor went on : 
" Then I must sleep for another hundred years." 

After that he invited the youth to help himself to as much as 
he liked of the treasures he saw before him, and not to forget 
the best. 

The herdsman filled his pockets as he was told. When he got 
out into the open air once more, the door shut behind him with a 
crash, and he could never find it again, for he had forgotten the 
best thing, the little blue flower. So the emperor is still sleeping 
with his heroes in his favourite palace. But the time will come 
when the empire is in greatest need of him, when the ravens will 
no longer fly round the battlements ; then he will arise in all his 
might, will break the magic bonds that hold him, and sword in 
hand fight a great and bloody battle against the enemies of his 
country upon the Walser Field or on the Rhine. Then he will hang 
his shield on a withered pear-tree, which will immediately begin to 
sprout again, and blossom and bear fruit :' the glorious old times 
of the German Empire will return, bringing with them unity and 
peace in their train. 



Wodan, the giver of victory. Ambri and Assi the Winilers, 
stood fully armed before the warlike Vandals. Their victory or 
servitude would be decided by the coming battle. 

" Give us the victory, Father of Battles," prayed the princes of 
the Vandals, as they offered up sacrifices to Wodan. And the god 
answered : " To them will be given the victory who come first 
before me on the morning of the day of battle." 

On the other hand Ibor and Ajo, dukes of the Winilers, went 
by the counsel of their wise woman, Mother Gambara, into the holy 
place of Freya, Wodan's wife, and entreated her to aid them. 

"Well," said the Queen of Heaven, "let your women go' out ere 
daybreak dressed in armour like the men, their hair combed down 
over their cheeks and chins, let them take up a position towards 
the east, and I will give ye a glorious victory." 

The dukes did as she commanded. 

As soon as the first rosy tints of dawn appeared in the sky, 
Freya wakened the great Ruler, and pointed eastwards towards 
the armed host. 

" Ha ! " said the god in astonishment, " what long-bearded 
warriors are these .' " 

"Thou hast named them," answered the queen, "so now do 
thou give them the victory ." And thus the Winilers gained great 
glory, and were henceforth known by the name of Long Beards 

As in the Northern myths, the Longobards also held great 
Wodan to be the giver of victory. But above all other qualities, 
he was the god who blessed mankind, and brought joy and pros- 
perity to his people. 

In the heathen times many games and processions were held in 



his honour, of which traces still remain in the customs and beliefs 
of the people. In many districts, for instance, the battle of the 
false Odin, who usurped the throne for the seven winter months, 
Vvith the true Odin, who brought blessings and summer into the 
world, was celebrated by a mimic fight, succeeded by sacrifices and 
feasting. This lasted for centuries, and was continued until quite 
recent times in the festivals of the first of May. 

A May Count or May King was chosen, and he was generally 
the best runner or rider, or the bravest in the parish. He was 
dressed in green and adorned with garlands of may and other 
flowers. He then hid himself in the wood ; the village lads 
went out to seek him there, and when they had found him, they 
put him on horseback, and led him with shouts and songs of joy 
through the village. The May King was allowed to choose a 
queen to share his honours at the dance and at the feast. 

In other places the most modest and diligent of the girls was 
chosen as Queen of May, and led into the village with the King, 
which was intended to commemorate the marriage of the 
Summer Odin with the Earth, whose youth was renewed by the 
genial Spring. It was at one time a regular practice to have a 
May-ride in Sweden, at which the May Count, decked in flowers 
and blossoms, had to fight against Winter, who was wrapped up 
in furs. May won the victory after a burlesque hand-to-hand 

Odin, the good and beneficent god, was also called Oski, i.e., 
"wish" in Norse, a word that is related to the German Wottne 
(rapture) : he was the source of all joy and rapture. 



King Hraudung had two handsome sons, Geirod and Agnar, 
the one ten and the other eight years old. The boys one day 
went out in a boat to fish. But the wind rose to a storm, and 
carried them far away from the mainland to a lonely islet, where 
the boat struck and broke in pieces. The boys managed to reach 
the shore in safety, and found there a cottager and his wife, who 
took compassion on them and gave them shelter. The woman 
took great care of the younger brother Agnar throughout the 
winter, while her husband taught Geirod the use of arms and gave 
him much wise counsel. That winter the children both grew 
wonde rfully tall and stro ng, and this was not surprising , for their 
guardians had been Odin_and his_wife_Frigg. When spring re- 
turned, the boys received a good boat and a favourable wind from 
their protectors, so that they soon reached their native land. But 
Geirod sprang on shore first, shoved the boat out to sea again, and 
cried, " Sail thou away, Agnar, into the evil spirits' power ! " The 
great waves, as though in obedience to the cruel boy's behest, 
carried the boat and Agnar far away to other shores. Geirod 
hastened joyfully up to the palace, where he found his father on 
his death-bed. He succeeded to the kingdom, and ruled over all 
his father's subjects and those he had gained for himself by force 
of arms and gold. 

Odin and Frigg were once sitting on their thrones at Hlidskialf 
gazing down at the world of mortal men and at their works. 
"Seest'thou," said the Ruler, "how Geirod, my pupil, has gained 
royal honours for himself? Agnar has married a giantess in a 
foreign land, and now that he has returned home, is living in his 
brother's palace poor and despised." " Still Geirod is only a base 
creature, who hoards gold and treats his guests cruelly instead of 


showing, them hospitality," replied the thoughtful goddess. Then 
Allfather determined to prove his favourite, and to reward him 
if all were well, but to punish him should he find that the accusa- 
tion was just. He, therefore, in the guise of a traveller from a 
far country, started for Geirod's palace. A broad-brimmed hat, 
drawn well down over his brows, shaded his face, and a blue cloak 
was wrapped around his shoulders. But the King had been 
warned by Frigg of a wicked enchanter, so he had the stranger 
seized and brought before his Judgment-seat. 

To all the questions asked him, the prisoner would only reply 
that his name was Grimnir, and disdained to give further informa- 
tion about himself Whereupon the king got into a passion, and 
commanded that the obstinate fellow should be chained to a chair 
between two fires upon which fresh fuel was to be continually 
thrown, so that the pain he suffered might induce him to speak 

The stranger remained there for eight nights, suffering bitter 
agony, without having had a bite or a sup the whole time, and 
now the flames were beginning to lick the seam of his mantle. 
Secretly Agnar, the disinherited, gave him a full horn of beer, 
which he emptied eagerly to the last drop. Then he began to 
sing, at first low and softly, but afterwards louder and louder, so 
that the halls of the castle echoed again, and crowds assembled 
without to listen to the strain. He sang of the mansions of the 
blessed gods, of the joys of Walhalla, of the Ash Yggdrasil, of those 
that dwelt within it, and of its roots in the depths of the worlds. 

The halls trembled, the strong walls shook as he sang of Odin's 
deeds, and of him whom Odin's favour had raised on high, but 
who was now delivered over to the sword because he had drunk 
of the cup of madness. " Already," he said, " I see my favourite's 
sword stained with his blood. Now thou seest Odin himself. 
Arise if thou canst 1 " And Grimnir arose, the chains fell from his 


hands, the flames played harmlessly about his garments ; he stood 
there in all his Ase's strength, his head surrounded by rays of 
heavenly light. Geirod had at first half drawn his sword in anger ; 
but now, when he tried to descend from his throne in haste to 


attempt to propitiate the god, it slipped quite out of its sheath, 
he tripped over it and fell upon it, so that its blade drank in his 
heart's blood. After his death, Agnar ruled over the kingdom, and 
by the favour of Odin his reign was long and glorious. 



Odin's power and wisdom and knowledge are described in the 
Edda and in many of the lays of the skalds. He went to Mimir, 
/the wise Jotun, who sat by the fountain of primeval wisdom, 
drank daily of the water and increased his knowledge thereby. 
The Jotun refused to allow the god to drink of his fountain, unless 
he first pledged him one of his eyes. Allfather did as he requested 
him, in order that he might create all things out of the depth of 
knowledge, and from that day forward Mimir drank daily of the 
crystal stream out of Allfather's pledge. Other accounts make 
out that the water was drawn out of Heimdal's Giallarhorn. Both 
accounts are given in the Northern poems. The myth from which 
they came shows us the meaning that lay at their foundation. 

Mimir, a word related to the Latin memor, incmini, signifies 
memory ; that it was known to the Germans is indicated by the 
similar sounds of the names of the Mumling, a stream in the 
Odenwald, and of Lake Mumel in the Black Forest, where the 
fairies lived. Mimir drew the highest knowledge from the foun- 
tain, because the world was born of water ; hence, primeval wisdom 
was to be found in that mysterious element. The eye of the god 
of heaven is the sun, which enlightens and penetrates all things ; 
his other eye is the moon, whose reflection gazes out of the deep, 
and which at last, when setting, sinks into the ocean. It also 
appears like the crescent-shaped horn with which the Jotun drew 
the draught of wisdom. 

According to other poems, Mimir was killed, but his head, 
which still remained near the fountain, prophesied future events. 
Before the Twilight of the Gods came to pass, Odin used to 


whisper mysterious things with him about the Destruction and 
Renewal of the world. 

At one time when the god was standing with his golden helmet 
on, by the side of the holy fountain on the high hill, and learning 
the runic signs from Mimir's head, he discovered the Hugruncs 
(spirit-runes). As we have already shown, these runes were not 
exactly used as formulae for writing connected sentences. They 
were only the accented letters used in Northern and Old-German 
poems ; that is to say, they were letters of similar sound used for 
alliterative purposes. The following examples are some of those 
that remain to us from olden time : hearth and home ; wind and 
weather ; hand and heart. They were intended as a help to the 
memory when learning and singing the lays. 

Odin gained power over all things by me ans of the runes, 
through which he was abl e to make all bend to h is will, and to 
obtain authority over the forces of nature. He knew runic 
songs that were effectual in battle, in discord, and in time of 
anxiety. They blunted the weapons of an opponent, broke the 
chains of noble prisoners, stopped the deadly arrow in its flight, 
turned the arms of the enemy against themselves, and calmed the 
fury of angry heroes. When a bark was in danger 9n the stormy 
sea, the great god stilled the tempest and the angry waves by his 
song, and brought the ship safe to port. When he sang his magic 
strain, warriors hastened to his assistance and he returned unhurt 
out of the battle. At his command a man would arise from the 
dead even after he had been strangled. He knew a song that gave 
strength to the Ases, success to the elves, and even more wisdom 
to himself J another that gave him the love of woman so that her 
heart was his for ever more. But his highest, holiest song was 
never sung to woman of mortal birth, but was kept for the Queen 
of Heaven alone, when he was sitting peacefully by her side. 



Kwasir, a man whom the Ases and Wanes had created amongst 
them, and whom they had inspired with their own spirit, was loved 
by gods and men for his wisdom and goodness. He travelled 
through all lands, teaching and benefiting the people. Wherever 
he went he tamed down the wild passions of all men, and taught 
them better and purer manners and customs. 

The evil race of Dwarfs alone, they that burrowed in the earth 
in search of treasures, cared nought for the love, although they 
enivied the wisdom of Kwasir. Fjalar and Galar, brothers of this 
people, invited him one day to a feast, and then murdered him 
treacherously with many wounds. They caught his blood in three 
vessels, the kettle Odrorir (inspiration), and the bowls Son (expia- 
tion) and Boden (offering). They mixed rum-honey with it, and 
made it into mead, which gave all who drank of it the gift of song 
and of eloquence that won every heart. 

As the wicked deed of the Dwarfs had brought them such good 
luck, they invited the rich giant Gilling and his wife to visit them, 
and took the former out fishing with them. Then they upset the 
boat in the surf under great over-hanging rocks, so that Gilling 
was drowned, while they, being good swimmers, righted the boat 
again, and rowed to land. 

When the giantess heard the sad fate of her husband, she wept 
and moaned, and refused to be comforted. The Dwarfs offered 
to take her to the rock on which the body had been washed. But 
as she was leaving the house, Galar threw a mill-stone from above 
down upon her head, so that she also was killed. Now Suttung, 
son of the murdered giant's brother, heard of the evil deed, and 
set out to avenge it. He seized the Dwarfs and made ready to 


bind them to a solitary rock out in the sea, that they might die 
there of hunger. They begged for mercy, promising to give him 
the wonderful mead concocted out of Kwasir's blood, in atonement 
for, what they had done. The giant accepted the expiation offered 
tilm ; he took the three vessels containing the liquor to a hollow 
mountain that belonged to him, and set his daughter Gunlod to 
keep guard over the magic drink. 

Odin, the God of Spirit, was told of all these things by his 
ravins Hugin and Munin. He determined to get possession of 
the Draught of Inspiration at any cost to himself, that it might no 
longer be kept uselessly hidden away by the giant in the interior 
of the earth, but might refresh gods and heroes, so that wisdom 
and poetry might delight the world. He therefore, in the guise 
of a simple traveller, started for Jotunheim. He came to a field 
where nine uncouth fellows were mowing hay. He offered to 
sharpen their scythes for them, and make them cut as well as the 
best swords. The men were pleased with his offer, so he pulled 
a whet-stone out of his pocket, and whetted and sharpened the 
scythes. When he at last returned them to the mowers, they 
found that they could work much quicker and better than before, 
and each wanted to have the whet-stone for himself. So the 
traveller threw it amongst them, and they struggled and fought 
for it with their scythes, until at length they all lay dead on the 

The traveller went on his way till he came to the master of the 
estate, the Jotun Baugi, a brother of Suttung, who received him 
hospitably. In the evening the giant complained that his farm- 
servants were all killed, and that his splendid crop of hay could 
not be harvested. Then Bolwerker (Evil-doer), as the traveller 
called himself, offered to do nine men's work if his host would get 
him a draught of Suttung's mead. 

" If thou wilt serve me faithfully," answered the Jotun, " I will 


try to fulfil thy desire ; but I will not hide from thee that my 
brother is very chary of giving a drop of it away." 

Bolwerker was satisfied with this promise, and worked as hard 
as the nine farm-servants for the whole summer. 

When winter came, Bangi, true to his promise, drove to his 
brother's dwelling with the traveller, and asked for a draught of 
the mead. But Suttung declared that the vagabond should not 
have a single drop. 

" We must now try what cunning will do," said Bolwerker ; " for 
I must and shall taste that mead, and I know many enchantments 
that will help me to what I want. Here is the mountain in which 
the mead is hidden, and here is my good auger, Rati, which can 
easily make its way through the hardest wall of rock. Take it 
and bore a hole with it, no matter how small." 

The Jotun bored as hard as he could. He soon thought that he 
had made a hole right through the rock, but Bolwerker blew into 
it and the dust came out into the open air. The second time they 
tried, it blew into the mountain, and Bolwerker, changing himself 
into a worm, wriggled through the hole so quickly that treacherous 
Bangi, who stabbed at him with the auger, could not reach him. 

When he had got into the cave, the Ase stood before the bloom- 
ing maiden Gunlod, in all his divine beauty and wrapped in his 
starry mantle. She nodded her acquiescence when he asked her 
for shelter and for three draughts of the inspiring mead. 

Three days he spent in the crystal mansion, and drank three 
draughts of the mead, in which he emptied Odrorir, Son and Boden 
He was intoxicated with love, with mead, and with poetry. Then 
he took the form of an eagle, and flew with rhythmical motion to 
the divine heights, even as the skald raises himself to the dwellings 
of the immortals on the wings of the song that is born of love, of 
wine, and inspiration. But Suttung heard the flap of the wings 
and knew who.had robbed him of his mead. His eagle-dress was 

ODIn's visit 10 GUNLOD. 


at hand, he therefore threw it round his great shoulders, and flew 
so quickly after the Ase that he almost came up with him. The 
gods watched the wild chase with anxiety. They got cups ready 
to receive the delicious beverage. When Odin with difficulty 
reached the safe precincts of holy Asgard, he poured the mead 
into the goblets prepared for it. Since that time AUfather has 
given the gods the Draught of Inspiration, nor has he denied drops 
of Odrorir to mortal men when they felt themselves impelled to 
sing to the harp of the deeds of the gods and of earthly heroes. 

Odin possessed knowledge of all past, present, and future events, 
since he had drunk of the fountain of Mimir and of Odrorir. He 
therefore determined to attempt a contest with Wafthrudnir, the 
wisest of the Jotuns, in which the conquered was to lose his head. 

In vain Frigg strove, in her fear, to dissuade him from the 
perilous undertaking ; he set out boldly on his way and entered 
the giant's hall as a poor traveller called Gangrader. 

Stopping on the threshold of the banqueting hall, he said, " My 
name is Gangrader, I have come a long way ; and now I ask thee 
to grant me hospitality and to let me strive with thee in wise 

Wafthrudnir answered him : " Why dost thou stand upon the 
threshold, instead of seating thyself in the room.' Thou shalt 
never leave my hall unless thou hast the victory over me in 
wisdom. We must lay head against head on the chance ; come 
forward then and try thy luck." 

He now proceeded to question his guest about the horses that 
carried Day and Night across the sky, the river that divided 
Asgard from Jotunheim, and the field where the Last Battle was 
to be fought. When Gangrader had shown his knowledge of all 
these things, the giant oifered him a seat by his side, and in his 
turn answered his guest's questions as to the origin of earth and 
heaven, the creation of the gods, how Niorder had come to them 


from the wise Wanes, what the Einheriar did in Odin's halls, what 
was the origin of the Norns, who was to rule over the heritage of 
the Ases after the world had been burnt up, and what was to be 
the end of the Father of the gods. 

After Wafthrudnir had answered all of these questions, Gang- 
rader asked : " I discovered much. I sought to find out the 
meaning of many things, and questioned many creatures. What 
did Odin whisper in the ear of his son befoi'e he ascended the 
funeral pile .' " 

Recognising the Father of the gods by this question, the 
conquered Jotun exclaimed : " Who can tell what thou didst 
whisper of old in the ear of thy son } I have called down my fate 
upon my own head, when I dared to enter on a strife of knowledge 
with Odin. Allfather, thou wilt ever be the wisest." 

The poet does not tell us whether the visitor demanded the head 
of the conquered Jotun. Nor does he mention the word that 
Odin whispered to his son before he went down to the realms of 
Hel ; but the context leads us to suppose that it was the word 
Resurrection, the word which pointed to the higher, holier life, to 
which Baldur, the god of goodness, should be born again, when a 
new and purer world should have arisen from the ashes of the old, 
sin-laden world. 

From later poems Odin appears not only as Ruler of the world, 
and Father of all Divine beings, who gradually as time went on 
became more and more subordinate to him, but also as progenitor 
of kings and heroic races, such as the kings of the Anglo-Saxons 
and Franks, as well as of the rulers of Denmark, Norway, and 


According to the Edda, Odin had three sons, Wegdegg, the East 
Saxon; Beldegg (Baldur or Phol), the West Saxon (Westphalian) ; 
and Sigi, to whom Franconia was given ; and three others, Skiold, 
Saming, and Yngwi, who were made kings of Denmark, Norway, 
and Sweden. Other sagas show that Wals, Sigmund, and Sigurd, 
the hero of the Niflung Lay, were descended from Sigi, while 
Brand and Heingest or Hengist, Horsa and Swipdager were de- 
scended from Beldegg. The Anglo-Saxon genealogical tables 
make out that Voden (Wodan) and Frealaf (Freya) had seven 
sons, who were the founders of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom. 
Others, on the contrary, only show three sons here also, which 
makes them more in agreement with the northern genealogies. 

According to the higher ideas regarding him, Odin was the 
father of gods and men ; the latter were created by him, while the 
former were his direct or indirect descendants. His son by Jbrd 
(the Earth) was strong Thor, father of Magni and Modi (Strength 
and Courage) ; by Frigg he had Baldur and Hodur ; by Rinda, 
Wall, who afterwards became the avenger of Baldur ; and by the 
nine mothers, the mysterious watchman Heimdal. Besides these, 
there were the poet-god Bragi ; the divine messenger, Hermodur ; 
the brave archer, UUer ; and even the god of heaven, Tyr, who 
otherwise received the highest honours. Related to him were 
Forseti, son of Baldur, and Widar, who were to rule over the new 
world of holiness and innocence. Thus he was the Father of the 
Ases. OiLthe_other.hand, Honir, whQ_gavj2_to_iiewIy- created-man- 
senses and life, and Loki, who gave him blood and blooming 
complexions, were Odin's brothers or C£mrades injprimeval times. 
Great Niorder, his bright son Freyer and his daughter Freya 
belonged to another divine race, that of the Wanes ; they were 
first brought into Asgard as hostages, but were received into the 
ranks of the Ases. 



After the birth of Thor, whose mother was Jord (the Earth), 
daughter of the giantess Fiorgyn, Odin left the dark Earth-goddess 
and married bright Frigg, a younger daughter of Fiorgyn ; hence- 
forth she shared his throne Hlidskialf, his divine wisdom and 
his power, becoming the joy and .delight of his heart, and the 
mother of the Ases. She ruled with him over the fate of mortals 
and granted her votaries good fortune and victory, often bringing 
about her ends by woman's cunning. Just as in Hellas a feast 
was held each year in commemoration of the marriage of Zeus 
and Hera, so did the old Teutons in like manner hold festivity 
to celebrate the union of Odin and Freya. 

Freya's palace was called Fensaler, that is, the hall of the sea. 
It probably got this name from the dwellers on the coast, who 
looked upon Frigg as the ruler of the sea and protector of ships. 
A soothing twilight always reigned, and it was adorned with pearls 
and gold and silver. And the goddess would bring all lovers, 
and husbands and wives who had been separated by an early 
death, to this peaceful palace, where they were reunited for ever. 
This belief of the old Teutons shows us that they regarded love 
in its truest and highest aspect, and built their hopes on being 
reunited after death to the objects of their affections. What we 
learn from the Latin annals of Armin and Thusnelda, of the high 
position of women as seers of future events, proves to us that noble 
women were always treated even by rude, fighting men, with 
respect and reverence ; while the romance of love is clearly shown 
in the Northern myth of Brynhild, who threw herself upon the 
burning pyre in order that she might be reunited to her beloved 

In her gorgeous palace Frigg sits spinning, on her golden distaff, 

•» ^/^ '-- fc4* ^*' 

"^i ;', ■ '1 €• 

1 1 I'liii ■ III 



FRIGG. 99 

the silken threads, which she afterwards bestows om the most 
worthy housewives. The goddess' spinning-wheel was visible to 
man every night, for it was that shining, starry zone which we in 
our ignorance now point out as the Belt of Orion, but which to our 
ancestors was the Heaven-queen's spinning-wheel. The goddess 
had three friends and attendants always beside her, and with these 
she used to hold council on human affairs, in the hall of the moon. 

FuUa or Volla was the first of Frigg's attendant-goddesses, and 
chief of the maidens ; according to Teutonic belief she was jjsq^ 
the sister of the Queen of Heayen. She wore a golden circlet 
round her head, and beneath it her long hair floated over her 
shoulders. Her offi ce was to tak e ch arge of the Queen's jewels, 
a nd to clo the her royal mispress. She listened to the prayers 
of sorrowful mortals, repeated them to Frigg, and advised her how 
best to give help. 

Hlin, the second of Frigg's maidens, was the protector^ of all 
who w ere in danger and _pf _those^_who_ called upon her for help 
injigur of need. 

The messenger of the Queen of Heaven was Gna, who rode, 
swift as the wind, on a horse with golden trappings, over land and 
sea, and through the clouds that floated in the air, to bring her 
mistress news of the fate of mortal men, 

Once as Gna was hovering over Hunaland, she saw King Rerir, 
a descendant of Sigi and of the race of Odin, sitting on the side 
of a hill. She heard him praying for a child, that his family might 
not be blotted out of memory ; for both he and his wife were 
advanced in years, and they had got no child to carry on their 
noble race. She told the goddess of the prayer of the king, who 
had often presented fine fruit as a sacrifice to the heavenly powers. 
Frigg smilingly gave her an apple which would ensure the fulfiU 
ment of the king's desire. Gna quickly remounted her horse 
Hoof-flinger, and hastened over land and sea, and over the country 


of the wise Wanes, who gazed up at the bold rider in astonish- 
ment, and asked : 

" What flies up there, so quickly driving past ? " 

Her answer from the clouds, as rushing by : 
" I fly not, nor do drive, but hurry fast 

Hoof-flinger swift through cloud and mist and sky." 

King Rerir was still seated on the hillside under the shade of 
a fir-tree, when the divine messenger came down to earth at the 
skirt of the wood close to where he sat. She took the form of a 
hooded-crow, and flew up into the fir-tree. She heard the prince 
mourning over the sad fate that had befallen him, that his family 
would die out with him, and then she let the apple fall into his 
lap. At first he gazed at the fruit in amazement, but soon he 
understood the meaning of the divine gift, took it home with him 
and gave it to his spouse to eat. 

Meanwhile Gna guid ed her noble horse rapidly along the st ar-lit 
road^tq^sgard, and told her mistress joyously of the success of 
her mission. In due time the Queen of Hunaland had a son, the 
great Wolsing, from whom the whole family took its name. He 
was the father of brave Sigmund, the favourite of Odin, and he 
in his turn of Sigurd, the fame of whose glory was spread over 
every Northern and Teutonic land. 

When the Queen of Heaven heard of the success that had accom- 
panied her divine gift, she herself decided to be the bearer of the 
news to the assembled gods and heroes, and determined to appear 
in her most glorious array. Fulla spread out all the Queen's 
jewels until they shone like stars, yet Frigg was not satisfied. 
Then Fulla pointed to Odin's statue of pure gold, that stood in the 
hall of the temple. She thought a worthy ornament might be 
made for the goddess out of that gold, if the skilful artificers who 
had made such a marvellous likeness of the Father of the gods could 

FRIGG. loi 

only be won over. The artists were bribed with rich presents 
and they at last cut away some of the gold from a place that 
was covered by the folds of the floating mantle, so that the theft 
could not easily be discovered. They then made the Queen a 
necklace of incomparable beauty. When Frigg entered the as- 
sembly and seated herself on the throne beside Odin, she at once 
made known to all present how she had saved a noble family 
from extinction. Every one gazed at her beauty in amazement, 
and the Father of the gods felt his heart filled anew with love 
for his queen. 

A short time afterwards Odin went to the hall of the temple 
in which his statue was placed. His penetrating eye at once 
discovered the theft that no one else had noticed, and his wrath 
was immediately kindled. He sent for the goldsmiths, and as 
they confessed nothing, he ordered them to be executed. Then he 
commanded that the statue should be placed above the high gate 
of the temple, and prepared magic runes that should give it sense 
and speech, and thus enable it to accuse the perpetrator of the 
deed. The Goddess-queen was greatly alarmed at all these pre- 
parations. She feared the anger of her lord, and still more the 
shame of her deed being proclaimed in the presence of the ruling 

Now there happened to be in the Queen's household a serving 
demon of low rank, but bold and daring, who had already ventured 
to show his admiration for his mistress. Fulla went to him and 
assured him that the Queen was touched by his devotion, upon 
which the demon declared himself willing to run any risks for her 
sake. He made the temple watchmen fall into a deep sleep, tore 
down the statue from above the door, and dashed it in pieces, so 
that it could no longer speak or complain. 

Odin saw what he was doing and guessed the reason. He 
raised Gungnir, the spear of death, ready to fling at all who had 


been concerned in the evil deed. But his love for Frigg triumphed 
over all else ; he determined on another punishment. 

He withdrew from gods and men ; he disappeared into distant 
regions, and with him went every blessing from heaven and earth. 
A false Odin took his place, who let loose the storms of winter 
and the Ice-giants over field and meadow. Every green leaf 
withered, thick clouds hid the golden sun and the light of the 
moon and stars ; the earth, lakes and rivers were frozen by the 
raging cold which threatened to destroy all forms of life. Every 
creature longed for the return of the god of blessing, and at length 
he came back. Thunder and lightning made known his approach. 
The usurper fled before the true Odin ; and shrubs and herbs 
of all kinds sprouted anew over the face of the earth, which was 
now made young again by the warmth of spring. 

In the foregoing tale, we have endeavoured as much as possible 
to make a connected narrative out of the confused, and now and 
then contradictory, myths regarding Frigg and her handmaids. 
We will only add that the myth which completes it, dates from 
a time when the gods had paled in the eyes of the people, and 
had become less exalted in character than of old. There are 
many versions of it differing from one another, and it serves 
here to show the difference *<between Summer-Odin and Winter- 


Let us now again turn our attention to the great goddess Frigg. 
The Northern skalds first raised her to the throne and distin- 
guished her from Freya or Frea, the goddess of the Wanes. She 
was originally identical with her, as her name and character show. 
For Frigg comes from frigen, a. Low-German word connected 
with freien in High-German, and meaning to woo, to marry, thus 


pointing to the character of the goddess. The old Germanic races, 
therefore, knew Frea alone as Queen of Heaven, and she and her 
husband Wodan together ruled over the world. The name Frigga 
or Frick was also used for her, for in Hesse, and especially in 
Darmstadt, people used to say fifty years ago of any fat old 
woman : " Sie ist so dick wie die alte Frick," (She is as thick [fat] 
as Old Frick.) The word frigen is also related to sich freuen 
(rejoice) ; thus Frigg was the goddess of joy {Freude). She took 
the place of the Earth-goddess Nerthus (mistakenly Hertha), who, 
Tacitus informs us, was worshipped in a sacred grove on an 
island in the sea. Nerthus was probably the wife of the god of 
heaven, in whom we recognise Zio or Tyr. He was the hidden 
god who according to the detailed account of Tacitus, was so 
reverently worshipped in a sacred grove by the Semnones, the 
noblest of the Swabian tribes, that the people never set foot on 
the ground that was consecrated to him without having their 
hands first bound. The Earth-goddess may also have been the 
wife and sister of Niorder, and separated from him when he was 
received amongst the Ases. In this case she belonged to the 
earlier race of gods, the Wanes, and her husband must have then 
been called Nerthus, a name afterwards changed into Niorder. 

In Mecklenburg the same goddess appears under the name of 
Mistress Gaude or Gode, which is the feminine form of Wodan or 
Godan. The country people believed that she brought good luck 
with her wherever she went. 

One story informs us that she once got a carpenter to mend a 
wheel of her carriage, which had broken when she was on a jourr 
ney. She gave him all the chips of wood as a reward for his 
trouble. The man was angry at getting so paltry a remuneration, 
and only pocketed a i&\j qI the chips ; but next morning he saw 
v/ith astonishment that they had turned to pure gold. 

According to another tale, Dame Gode was a great huntress, 


who together with her twenty-four daughters devoted herself to the 
noble pursuit of the chase day and night, on week-days and on 
Sundays. She was therefore made to hunt to all eternity, and her 
pack of hounds consisted of maidens who were turned into dogs 
by enchantment ; she was thus forced to take part in the Wild 

In France the goddess was called Bensocia (good neighbour, 
bona socio), and in the Netherlands, Pharaildis, i.e., Frau Hilda 
or Vrouelden, whence the Milky Way was named Vrouelden- 

Hilde {Held, hero) signifies war, and she was a Walkyrie, who 
with her sisters exercised her office in the midst of the battle. 
Later poems make her out to be daughter of King Hogni, who 
was carried off, while gathering magic herbs on the seashore, by 
bold Hedin when he was on a Wiking-raid. Her father pursued 
the Wiking with his war-ships, and came up with him on an island. 
In vain Hilde strove to prevent bloodshed. Hogni had already 
drawn his terrible sword, Dainsleif, the wounds made by which 
never healed. Once more Hedin offered the king expiation and 
much red gold in atonement for what he had done. 

His father-in-law shouted in scorn : " My sword Dainsleif, which 
was forged by, the Dwarfs, never returns to its sheath until it has 
drunk a share of human blood ! " 

The battle began and raged all day without being decided one 
way or the other. 

In the evening both parties returned to their ships to strengthen 
themselves for the combat on the morrow. 

But Hilde went to the field of battle, and by means of runes and 
magic signs awakened all the dead warriors and made whole their 
broken swords and shields. 

As soon as day broke, the fight was renewed, and lasted until 
the darkness of night obliged the combatants to stop. 


The dead were stretched out on the battle-field as stiff as figures 
of stone ; but before morning dawned the witch-maiden had 
awakened them to new battle, and so it went on unceasingly until 
the gods passed away. 

Hilde was also known and worshipped in Germany, as is shown 
by the legend about the foundation of the town of Hildesheim. 

One year, as soon as snow had fallen on the spot dedicated to her, 
King Ludwig ordered the cathedral to be built there. The Virgin 
Mary afterwards took her place, and several churches were built 
in honour of Maria am Schnee (Marie au neige) both in Germany 
and in France. 

Nehalennia, the protectress of ships and trade, was worshipped 
by the Keltic and Teutonic races in a sacred grove on the island 
of Walcheren ; she had also altars and holy places dedicated to 
her at Nivelles. The worship of Isa or Eisen, who was identical 
with Nehalennia, was even older and more wide-spread throughout 
Germany. St. Gertrude took her place in Christian times, and her 
name (Geer, i.e., spear, and Trude, daughter of Thor) betrays its 
heathen origin. 


Once upon a time, in a lonely valley of the Tyrol, where snow- 
capped glaciers ever shone, there lived a cow-herd with his wife 
and children. He used to drive his small herd of cattle out to 
graze in the pastures, and now and again would shoot a chamois, 
for he was a skilled bowman. His cross-bow also served to protect 
his cattle from the beasts of prey, and the numerous bear-skins and 
wolf-skins that covered the floor of his cottage bore witness to his 
success as a hunter. 

One day, when he was watching his cattle and goats on a fra- 
grant upland pasture, he suddenly perceived a splendid chamois. 


whose horns shone like the sun. He immediately seized his bow 
and crept forward on hands and knees until he was within shot. 
But the deer sprang from rock to rock higher up the mountain, 
seeming every now and then to wait for him, as though it mocked 
his pursuit. He continued the chase eagerly until he reached the 
glacier which had sunk below the snow-fields. 

The chamois now vanished behind some huge boulders, but at 
the same time he discovered a high arched doorway in the glacier, 
and in the background beyond he saw a light shining. 

He went through the dark entrance boldly, and found himself in 
a large hall, the walls and ceiling of which were composed of dazz- 
ling crystal, ornamented with fiery garnets. He could see flowery 
meadows and shady groves through the crystal walls ; but a tall 
woman was standing in the centre of the hall, her graceful limbs 
draped in glancing, silvery garments, caught in at the waist by a 
golden girdle, and resting on her blond curls was a coronet of car- 
buncles. The flowers in her hand were blue as the eyes with which 
she gently regarded the cow-herd. Beautiful maidens, their heads 
crowned with Alpine roses, surrounded their mistress, and seemed 
about to begin a dance. But the herdsman had no eye for any 
except the goddess, and sank humbly on his knees. 

Then she said in a voice that went straight to the heart of the 
hearer : — 

" Choose what thou thinkest the most costly of all my treasures, 
silver, gold, or precious stones, or one of my maidens." 

"Give me, kind goddess," he answered; "give me only the 
bunch of flowers in thy hand ; I desire no other good thing upon 
the earth." 

She bent her head graciously as she gave him the flowers, and 
said : — 

"Thou hast chosen wisely. Take them and live as long as 
these flowers bloom. And here," pointing to a corn measure, " is 


seed with which to sow thy land that it may bear thee many blue 
flowers such as these." 

He would have embraced her knees, but a peal of thunder shook 
the hall and the mountain, and the vision was gone. 

When the cow-herd awoke from his vision, he saw nothing but 
the rocks and the glacier, and the wild torrent that flowed out of 
it ; the entrance to the palace of the goddess had vanished. The 
nosegay was still in his hand and beside him was the wooden 
measure full of seed. These tokens convinced him that what had 
happened was not a mere dream. 

He took up his presents and his cross-bow, and descended the 
mountain thoughtfully to see what had become of his cattle. They 
were nowhere to be seen, look for them where he might, and when 
he went home he found nothing but want and misery. Bears and 
wolves had devoured his herd, and only the swift-footed goats had 
escaped from the beasts of prey. 

A whole year had elapsed since he had left home, and yet he 
had thought that he had only spent a few hours chamois-hunting 
in the mountains. When he showed his wife the bunch of flowers, 
and told her that he intended to sow the seed that had been given 
him, she scolded him, and mocked him for his folly ; but he would 
not be turned aside from his determination, and bore all his wife's 
hard words most patiently. 

He ploughed up a field and sowed the seed, but there was still 
a great deal over ; he sowed a second and a third field, and yet 
much seed remained. The little green sprouts soon showed in 
the fields, grew longer and longer, till at length the blue flowers 
unfolded themselves in great numbers, and even the cow-herd's 
wife rejoiced at the sight, so lovely were they to look upon. 

The man watched over his crop day and night, and he often 
saw the goddess of the mountain wandering through his fields 
in the moonlight with her maidens, blessing them with uplifted 


When the flowers were all withered and the seed was ripe, she 
came again, and showed how the flax was to be prepared, after 
which she went into the cottage and taught the cow-herd's wife 
how to spin and weave the flax and bleach the linen, so that it 
became as white as newly fallen snow. 

The cow-herd rapidly grew rich, and became a benefactor to his 
country, for he introduced the cultivation of flax throughout the 
land, which gave employment and wages to thousands of country- 
people. He saw children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren 
around him, but the bunch of flowers the goddess had given him 
was still as fresh as ever, even when he was more than a hundred 
years old and very tired of life. 

One morning while he was looking at his beloved flowers, they 
all bent down their heads, withered and dying. Then he knew 
that it was time to say farewell to earthly life. Leaning on his 
staff, he toiled painfully up the mountains. It was already evening 
when he reached the glacier. 

The snow-fields above were shining gloriously as though in 
honour of the last walk of the good old man. He once more saw 
the vaulted doorway and the glimmering light beyond. And then 
he passed with good courage through the dark entrance into the 
bright morning which greets the weary pilgrim, when, after his 
earthly journey is over, he reaches Hulda's halls. The door now 
closed behind him, and he was seen no more on earth. 

This and other traditions of the same kind are told in the Tyrol 
of the old Germanic goddess Hulda or Holda. Her name shows 
that she was a goddess of grace and mercy, and she must have 
been worshipped both in Germany and in Sweden, but still no 
traces are to be found of her at the present day in the Teutoburg 
Forest, where so many of the places and names point back to the 
old Germanic religion, nor yet do the Northern skalds give an 
account of her. However, German fairy legends and tales call to 


HOLD A. 113 

us the great goddess whose character and deeds live on in the 
memory of the people, and the Northern Huldra, who drew men 
to her by means of her wondrous song, is exactly identical with 
her. Her name has been derived from the old Northern Hulda, 
i.e.. Darkness ; and it has been thought that she was the imper- 
sonation of the dark side of the goddess of Earth and Death ; but 
the derivation which we gave before, from Huld, grace, mercy, 
seems more suitable. 

A Northern fairy-tale makes Hulla or Hulda, queen of the 
Kobolds. She was a daughter of the queen of the Hulde-men, 
who killed first her faithless husband and then herself. She enticed 
wise King Odin by means of a stag, to her mansion, which was 
hidden in the depths of a wood. She gave him of her best, and 
then begged him to act as umpire in a legal dispute that had 
arisen between her and the other Kobolds and Thurses, about the 
murder of her husband. He consented to do so, and his decision 
made her queen of all the Kobolds and Thurses in Norseland. 
This tale is quite modern in its form, but it certainly is based on 
ancient beliefs. 

A poem dating from the middle ages places Holda in the 
Mountain of Venus, a place that is generally supposed to be the 
Horselberg in Thuringia. She was then called Mistress Venus, 
and held a splendid court with her women. Noble knights, 
amongst whom was Ritter Tannhauser, were drawn by her into 
the mountain, where they lived such a gay, merry life of pleasure 
that they could hardly ever again free themselves from her spell 
and make their escape, even though thoughts of honour and duty 
might now and then return to them. 

It was finally said of Holda, that those who were crippled in any 
way were restored to full strength and power by bathing in her 
Quickborn (fountain of life), and that old men found their vanished 
youth there once more. This tradition connects her with the 



Northern Iduna, who had charge of the apple that preserved the 
immortality 'and vigour of the Ases. But she also resembled 
Ostara, who was worshipped by the Saxons, Franks and other 

Ostara, the goddess of Spring, of the resurrection of nature after 
the long death of winter, was highly honoured by all the old 
Teutons, nor could Christian zeal prevent her name being im- 
mortalised in the word Easter, the period of spring, at which time 
the Saxons in England worshipped her. The memory of these 
old times has long since passed away, although the " hare " still 
lays its "Easter-eggs." The custom is very old of giving each 
other coloured eggs as a present at the time when day and night 
became equal in length and when the frozen earth awakens to 
new life after the cold of winter is gone, for an egg was typical 
of the beginning of life. Christianity put another meaning on the 
old custom, by connecting it with the feast of the Resurrection of 
the Saviour, who, like the hidden life in the egg, slept in the grave 
for three days before he wakened to new life. 

There are no legends about the goddess of spring. One monu- 
ment alone, and that a newly discovered one, remains of the old 
worship, the Extern-stones, which are to be found in the Teuto- 
burg Forest at the northern end of the wooded hills. It is stated 
in the chronicle of a neighbouring village, dating from last century, 
that the ignorant peasantry were guilty of many misdemeanours 
there when doing honour to the heathen goddess Ostara. Had the 
clergyman only told us whether there were processions, dances, 
feasts, scattering of flowers, or any other kind of sacrifice, a clear 
light might have been shed over the manner in which the goddess 
was worshipped. Still, this fact proves that not only the name, but 
also the worship of Ostara was kept in the memories of the people 
for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, and shows how deeply 
rooted it was. The rocks may perhaps have been called Eastern 


or Eostern-stones, and may have been dedicated to Ostara. There, 
as elsewhere, the priests and priestesses of the goddess probably- 
assembled in heathen times, scattered Mayflowers, lighted bon- 
fires, slaughtered the creatures sacrificed to her, and went in pro- 
cession on the first night of May, which was dedicated to her. 
Very much the same as this used to be done at Gambach, in Upper 
Hesse, where, as late as thirty years ago even, the young people 
went to the Easter-stones on the top of a hill, every Easter, and 
danced and held sports. Edicts were published in the eighth cen- 
tury forbidding these practices ; but in vain, the people would not 
give up their old faith and customs. Afterwards the priestesses 
were declared to be witches, the bonfires, which cast their light to 
great distances, were said to be of infernal origin, and the festival 
of May was looked upon as the witches' sabbath. Nevertheless, 
young men and maidens still continue, near the Meissner-Gebirg 
in Hesse, to carry bunches of Mayflowers and throw them into 
one of the caves that are to be found there. For Ostara, who 
gives new life to nature, is the divine protectress of youth and 
the giver of married happiness. 


The dusk of evening has fallen over Berlin. A great yet silent 
crowd is rapidly moving through the chief street towards the royal 
palace, and every now and then a low whisper is heard, in which 
can be distinguished the words : " The King is very ill." In the 
palace itself yet greater silence reigns. The King's guardsmen 
stand motionless, the servants' steps are inaudible on the carpets of 
the corridors and the rooms. Now the tower clock strikes mid- 
night ; all at once a door opens, and through it glides a ghostly 
woman, tall of stature, queenly of bearing. 

She is dressed in a trailing white garment, a white veil covers her 


head, below which her long flaxen hair hangs, twisted with strings 
of pearls ; her face is deathly pale as that of a corpse. In her 
right hand she carries a bunch of keys, in her left a nosegay of 
Mayflowers. She walks solemnly down the long corridor. The 
tall guardsmen present arms, pages and lackeys give way before 
her, the guards who have just relieved their comrades open their 
ranks ; the figure passes through them, and goes through a folding 
door into the royal ante-room. 

" It is the White Lady ; the King is about to die," whispers the 
officer of the watch, brushing a tear from his eye. 

"The White Lady has appeared," is whispered through the 
crowd, and all know what that portends. 

At noon the King's death was known to all. " Yes," said Master 
Schneckenburger, " he has been gathered to his fathers. Mistress 
Berchta has once more announced what was going to happen, for 
she can foretell everything, both bad and good. She was seen 
before the misfortunes of 1806, and again before the battle of Belle- 
Alliance. She has a key with which to open the door of life and 
happiness. He to whom she gives a cowslip will succeed in what- 
ever he undertakes." 

Schneckenburger was right. It was Bertha, or Berchta, who 
made known the King's approaching death, but she was also the 
prophetess of other important events. Berchta (from percht, 
shining) is almost identical with Holda, except that the latter 
never appears as the White Lady. Many Germanic tribes wor- 
shipped the Earth-goddess under the name of Berchta, and there 
are numbers of legends about her both in North and South 

One evening in the year was dedicated to her, and was called 
Perchten-evening(30th December or 6th January), when she was sup- 
posed, as a diligent spinner, to oversee the labours of the spinning- 
room, or, magic staff in hand, to ride at the head of the Raging 


Host, in the midst of a terrific storm. She generally lived in hollow 
mountains, where she, as in Thuringia, watched over and tended 
the " Heimchen," or souls of babes as yet unborn, and of those who 
died an early death. She busied herself there by ploughing up 
the ground under the earth, whilst the babes watered the fields. 
Whenever men, careless of the good she did them, disturbed her 
in her mountain dwelling, she left the country with her train, and 
after her departure the fields lost all their former fruitfulness. 

Once when Berchta and her babes were passing over a meadow 
across the middle of which ran a fence that divided it in two, the 
last little child could not climb over it ; its water-jar was too 

A woman, who a short time before had lost her little baby, was 
close by, and recognised her dead darling, for whom she had wept 
night and day. She hastened to the child, clasped it in her arms, 
and would not let it go. 

Then the little one said : " How warm and comfortable I feel in 
my mother's arms ; but weep no more for me, mother, my jar is full 
and is growing too heavy for me. Look, mother, dost thou not 
see how all thy tears run into it, and how I've spilt some on my 
little shirt .' Mistress Berchta, who loves me and kisses me, has 
told me that thou shouldst also come to her in time, and then we 
shall be together again in the beautiful garden under the hill." 

Then the mother wept once more a flood of tears, and let the 
child go. 

After that she never shed another tear, but found comfort in the 
thought that she would one day be with her child again, 

Berchta appears in many legends as an enchantress, or as an 
enchanted maiden, who provided a rich treasure for him who was 
lucky enough to set her free from the magic spell that bound her. 
Still more frequently, however, she took up her abode in princely 
castles as the " Ahnfrau," or Ancestress of the family to whom the 


castle belonged. In these stories the Goddess of Nature is hardly 

It is told that the widowed Countess Kunigunde of Orlamiind 
fell in love with Count Albrecht the beautiful, of Hohenzollern. 
He told her that four eyes stood in the way of a marriage between 
them, and she, thinking that he referred to her children, had them 
secretly murdered. But, as the tale informs us, he had meant his 
parents, who disapproved of the marriage. He felt nothing but 
abhorrence of the murderess when he found out what she had 
done, and she, repenting of her sin, made a pilgrimage to Rome, 
did severe penance, and afterwards founded the nunnery of the 
Heavenly Crown, where she died an abbess. Her grave, as well 
as those of her children and of the Burggraf Albrecht, are still 
shown there. From that time she appeared at the Plassenburg, 
near Baireuth, as the " Ahnfrau," who made known any evil that 
was going to happen ; later on she went to Berlin with the Count's 
family, and is still to be seen there as the tale at the beginning of 
this chapter shows. 

Another account makes the apparition out to be the Countess 
Beatrix of Cleve, who was married to the Swan-Knight so often 
mentioned among the old heroes of the middle ages. The House 
of Cleve was nearly related to that of Hohenzollern, and in the 
mysterious Swan-Knight we recognise the god of Light, who 
comes out of the darkness of night and returns to it again. 

A more simple version refers to a Bohemian Countess, Bertha 
of Rosenberg. She was unhappily married to Johann of Lichten- 
berg, after whose death she became the benefactress of her sub- 
jects, built the Castle Neuhaus, and never laid aside the white 
garments of widowhood as long as she lived. In this dress she 
appeared, and even now appears, to the kindred families of Rosen- 
berg, Neuhaus and Berlin, on which occasion she prophesies either 
good or evil fortune. 

BERCHTA. 1 19 

The Germanic races carried the worship of this Earth-goddess 
with them to Gaul and Italy, in the former of which countries 
a proverbial expression refers to the underground kingdom of the 
goddess, by reminding people " du temps que Bertlie filait." It was 
that time of innocence and peace, of which almost every nation 
has its tradition, for which it longs, and to which it can only 
return after death. 

Historical personages have also been supposed to enact the part 
formerly given to the Earth-mother. 

A tradition of the 12th century informs us that Pepin, father of 
Charlemagne, wished to marry Bertrada, a Hungarian princess, 
who was a very good and diligent spinner. His wooing was suc- 
cessful, and the princess and her ladies set out on their journey 
to Pepin's court. The bride's marvellous beauty was only marred 
by her having a very large foot. 

Now the chief lady-in-waiting was a wicked woman, and jealous 
of Bertrada ; so she gave the princess to some villains she had 
bribed, in order that she might be murdered in the forest, and then 
she put her own ugly daughter in her mistress's place. Although 
Pepin was disgusted with his deformed bride, he was obliged to 
marry her according to compact ; but soon afterwards, on finding 
out the deception that had been practised upon him, he put her 
from him. 

Late one evening when out hunting, he came to a mill on the 
river Maine. There he saw a girl spinning busily. He recognised 
her as the true Bertrada by her large foot, found out how her 
intended murderers had taken compassion on her, and how she 
had finally reached the mill. He then discovered his rank to her, 
and entreated her to fulfil her engagement to him. The fruit of 
this marriage was Charlemagne. 

In this tale we recognise the old myth under a modern form. 

We see how Mother Earth, the protectress of souls and ances- 


tress of man, especially of those of royal or heroic race, is thrust 
aside by the cunning, wintry Berchta, but is joined again by her 
heavenly husband, and becomes the mother of the god of Spring. 
Even the large foot reminds us of the goddess, who was originally 
supposed to show herself in the form of a swan. This is the 
reason why in French churches there are representations of 
queens with a swan's or goose's foot {reine f^dauque). 

Other French stories show Berchta in the form of Holda : how 
she sheds tears for her lost spouse, so bitter that the very stones 
are penetrated by them. Both goddesses are identical with the 
Northern Freya, who wept golden tears for her husband. 

There is an old ballad that is still sung in the neighbourhood 
of Mayence, which tells of the bright, blessed kingdom of the 
goddess. We can give only the matter of it here, as the verses 
themselves have not remained in our memory. 

A huntsman once stood sadly at the water's edge, and thought 
on his lost love. He had had a young and lovely wife, who, when 
he came wearied home from the chase, would welcome him with 
the warm kiss of love. She bare him a sweet babe, and made him 
perfectly happy. But ere long both were taken from his side by 
grim, envious death, and now he was alone. Gladly would he 
have died with them, but that was not to be. Three months had 
flown by, but his wife and child were still always in his thoughts. 

One night his way led him beside a flowing stream ; he stopped 
still on the bank, gazed long into the water's depths, and asked : 

"Is the broken heart to be made whole in a watery grave 
alone > " 

Thereupon sweet silvery notes fell upon his ear; and as he 
glanced upwards, he saw before him a beauteous, queenly woman, 
sitting opposite him on the other side of the stream ; she was spin- 
ning golden flax, and singing a wondrous song : 


" Youth, enter thou my shining hall, 
Where joy and peace e'er rest ; 
When the weary heart at length finds all 
Its loved ones, 'gain 'tis blest ! 

The coward calls my hall the grave, 

My kiss he fears 'twere death ; 
But the leap is boldly made by the brave — 

His the gain by the loss of life's breath ! 

Youth, leave thou, then, the lonesome, des'late shore. 
And boldly gain the joy enduring evermore." 

The huntsman listens ; do the thrilling tones come from the 
beauteous woman on the opposite bank, or is it from the watery 
deep that they proceed ? 

Wildly he leaps into the flood, and a fair, white arm is extended, 
encircling him and drawing him down beneath the water's surface, 
away from all earthly cares, away from all earthly distress and 
pain. And his loved ones greet him, his youthful wife and his 
babe. " See, father ! how green the trees grow here, and how the 
coloured flowers sparkle with silver ! And no one cries here, no 
one has any troubles ! " 

This tale is based upon the old heathen belief as to the life in 
a future state ; it shows us that the conviction of our forefathers 
has always been, that for the virtuous death was merely a transi- 
tion to a new life, to a life purer, more complete, than that on 


Arwaker (Early-waker) and Alswider (All-swift), the horses of 
the sun, were wearily drawing the fiery chariot to its rest. The 
sea and the ice-clad mountains were glowing in the last rays of the 
setting sun. The clouds that were rising in the west received 
them in their lap. Then flashes of lightning darted forth from the 


clouds, thunder began to roll in the distance, and the waves dashed 
in wild fury upon the rock-bound coast of the fiord. 

" Hang up the snow-shoes, lad, and take off thy fui- cap ; 6ku- 
thor (Thor of the chariot) is driving over to waken old Mother 
Jord. Put the jar of mead on the stone table, wife, that he may 
find something to drink ; and you, you lazy fellows, why are you 
sitting idly over the fire, instead of rubbing up the ploughshares 
until they shine again ? This is going to be a fruitful year, for 
Hlorridi (heat-bringer) has come early. Come, Thialf, pull off my 
fur boots." 

Thus spoke the yeoman to whom Balshoff belonged, as he sat 
on the stone bench by the fire. But then he stopped short, and 
stared open-mouthed; Thialf let the fur boots fall from his hand; 
the mistress of the house dropped the jug of mead, and the farm- 
servants the plough. Wingthor drove over from the west in all his 
fury ; he struck the house with his hammer Miolnir, and the flash 
broke through the ridge of the roof beside the pillar that supported 
it, and penetrated a hundred miles below the clay floor. , A sul- 
phureous vapour filled the room ; but the yeoman, shaking off his 
stupefaction, rose from his stone bench, and when he saw that no 
more damage was done, he said : 

" Wingthor has been gracious to us, and now he has gone on to 
fight against the Frost and Mountain Giants. Do ye not hear the 
blows of his hammer, the howls of the monsters in their caverns, 
and the crashing of their stone heads as though they were nothing 
but oatmeal dumplings .' But to us he has given rain, which even 
now is falling heavily, rain that will soon melt away the snow 
and prepare the soil to receive the seed we shall sow later on. 
The tiny sprouts will grow rapidly, and grass and herbs and the 
green leek will reward us for our industry. Preserve the golden 
ears of corn for us, O Thor, until the harvest time." 

In such manner people used, in the olden time, to call on the 


strong god of thunder, Thunar, — in the North, Thor. He wasjield 
in_great reverence, and was perhaps even regarde d as an equal 
of th e God of He aven. Traces of this are still recognisable, for 
wherever he was spoken of in connection with the other gods, he 
was given the place of honour in the middle. The Saxons had to 
renounce Wodan, Donar, and Saxnot. In the temple of Upsala, 
Thor is placed between Odin and Freyer. In " Skirnir's Journey," 
a poem of the Edda, it is said : " Odin is adverse to thee, the 
Prince of the Ases (Thor) is adverse to thee, Freyer curses thee." 
He retained this high position in Norway , where he fought ag ainst 
t he Frost and Mountain Giants, who sent the destructive east wind 
o ver the c ountry. And not less honour was paid him in Saxony 
and Franconia. The oak was sacred to him, and his festivals were 
solemnized under the shade of oak trees. When thunder-clouds 
passed over the earth, Thor was said to be driving his chariot 
drawn by two fierce male goats, called Tooth-cracker and Tooth- 

Odin — not he who sat on Hlidskialf overlooking the nine worlds, 
but the omnipotent God, of Heaven — married Jord, Mother Earth, 
and the offspring of this marriage was strong Thor, who began 
even in the cradle to show his Ase-like strength by lifting ten 
loads of bear-skins. 

Gentle old Mother Jord, who was known by several other names 
in different parts of Germany, could not manage her strong son, so 
two other beings, Wingnir (the winged), and Hlora (heat) became 
his foster-parents. These were personifications of the winged 
lightning. From them were derived the god's names jof_Wingthor 
and Hlorridi. 

Thor married Sif (kin), for he, the protector of households, was 
himself obliged to have a well-ordered household. The beautiful 
goddess had golden hair, probably because of the golden corn of 
which her husband was guardian, and her son was the swift archer. 


Uller, who hunted in snow-shoes every winter, and ruled over As- 
gard and Midgard in the cold season, while the summer Odin 
was away. By the giantess, Jarnsaxa (Ironstone) Thor had two 
sons, Magni (Strength) and Modi (Courage), and by his real wife 
a daughter, Thrud (Strong), the names of whom all remind us of 
his own characteristics. 

Thor was handsome, large and well-proportioned, and strong. 
A red beard covered the lower part of his face, his hair was long 
and curly, his clothes were well-fitting and his arms were bare, 
showing his strongly-developed muscles. In his right hand he 
carried the crashing-hammer, Miolnir, whose blows caused the 
destructive lightning flash and the growling thunder. 





A gentle breeze was blowing 
over the rich land of Thrudheim, 
and the doors of Bilskirnir were standing open that the castle 
might be filled with the aromatic perfume of the summer flowers. 
Thor slept quietly in the great hall, until morning dawned and 
chased away the shades of night. The god then rose from his 
couch, but his first glance fell on his wife Sif, who looked very 
sad. All her golden hair had vanished in the night, and she was 
standing before him with a bald head, like the earth when the 
golden corn has been harvested. He guessed who the author of 


the mischief was, and rushed angrily over the hills and through the 
groves of Asgard until he came to spiteful Loki, whom he seized 
by the throat and held till his eyes almost started from his head. 
He would not let him go until he promised to obtain another head 
of hair, the same as the old one, from the dwarfs. As soon as the 
mischief-maker was free he hastened to Elfheim, and after paying 
a heavy price, brought away with him not only the hair but also 
Gungnir, the spear that never failed in its blow; and the ship SkLcM 
bladnir, which could sail whatever wind was blowing, and which 
was so cunningly made, that it could be folded up and put in the 
pocket when it was no longer wanted. He gave Thor the hair for 
his wife, and it was no sooner put upon her head than it took root 
and began to grow apace. To Odin he gave the spear, and to 
Freyer the ship, that he might go to sea with the merchants' gal- 
leys and save shipwrecked persons. 

Delighted with the praise his gifts received on all sides, Loki 
assertedthat his smiths, the sons of Iwaldur, were the best workers 
in metal that had ever lived. Now it happened that the JDwarf 
Brock was present when he said this, and Brock's brother, Sindri, 
was generally regarded as the best smith. So he scornfully re- 
plied that no one could beat his brother, and that he would wager 
his head for Sindri's fame. Brock informed his brother of the 
dreadful bet, but was told to be of good courage ; he was given 
the bellows and desired to keep on blowing the fire without stop- 
ping, so that there might be no interruption in the magic work, a 
circumstance which would at once bring all their efforts to naught, 
Sindri then put a pig-skin in the fire, and went away to draw the 
magic circle, and command the assistance of the hidden powers in 
his labours. Brock, meanwhile, worked hard at the bellows, in 
spite of the attacks of a fly which continually stung him on the 
hand till the blood flowed. When Sindri returned there was life 
in the fire, and he drew out of it the enormous wild boar Gullin - 


burst i, with golden bristles, the radiance of which made the dark 
smithy as light as day. 

The second work of art had now to be made. Sindri laid some 
red gold in the furnace, and Brock blew the bellows in spite of the 
cruel stings of the fly, until at last the ring Draupni r was formed, 
from which eight other rings exactly similar dropped every ninth 

Lastly, the smith threw a bar of iron into the furnace, and 
desired his brother to blow steadily. Brock did as he was told, 
and bore the agony caused by the fly, which he knew cunning Lok i 
had sent . But when all at once it stung him on the eyelid, and 
the blood ran down into his eye, he dashed his hand at it to crush 
it. Then the flames rose in the air and suddenly sunk again and 
were extinguished. Sindri rushed into the hall in terror, but his 
face brightened when he had looked into the furnace. 

" All is well," he said ; " it is finished — only the handle is some- 
what short." 

Then he drew a great battle-hammer out of the furnace, and gave 
it to his brother, as well as the two other works of art, adding : 

" Go now : thou hast w on the bet, and thin e enemy ' s hea d 

Brock entered the assembly of the Ases, who were sitting in 
council. He gave Odin the ring Draupnir, and to bright Freyer 
he gave the boar GuUinbursti, which he said would carry him swift 
as the wind through mists and clouds, and over mountains and 
valleys. When T hor received the hammer, and swung it in his 
right han d, then he, the prince of the Ases, grew tall as a giant ; 
dark cloud s piled themselves around his waist ; lightning " fl ashed 
frojn the cloud s, and roll ing peals of thunder shook th e heights of 
Asgard and Midgard. ter rifying both Ases and morta l men. Odin 
alone, to whom fear was impossible, sat unmoved upon his throne, 
and said : 


" Miolnir is the greatest of treasures, for in the hand of my son 
it will protect Asgard from every assault of the giants." 

So Brock won the wager and Loki's head as well, and he refused 
to accept anything else in exchange. But the son of Laufey had 
already taken refuge in flight, so Thor hastened after him, and 
soon brought him back. 

" The head is thine, but not the neck," cried the mischief-maker, 
as the dwarf raised his sword. 

" Then I will sew up thy great mouth," answered Brock, trying to 
make holes through his opponent's lips ; but all in vain, the knife 
made no impression. So he got his brother's awl, and that did 
not fail. He sewed up the mouth, and Loki stood in the midst of 
the laughing Ases unable to speak ; yet he soon found means to 
unfasten the string. 

The hair of the earth-goddess, Sif, is the flowers and corn that 
grow upon the earth. These are cut down in the harvest, and the 
winter-demon robs the goddess of her hair, and leaves her head 
quite bald. But the Dwarfs who live under the earth provide her 
with a fresh supply of hair, and with the help of the Thunder-god 
punish the evil-doer. 

Alwismal, the Song of Alwis — Alwis, the King of the Dwarfs, 
who had travelled throughout the nine worlds and had learnt all 
the languages and wisdom of the dwellers therein, once went to 
Asgard. He met with a friendly reception there, for all the Ases 
knew about his palace which shone with gold and precious 
stones, and of his widely extended power over the underground 
people. He saw beautiful Thrud, Asathor's strong daughter, fell 
in love with her, and asked for her hand in marriage. The Ases 
approved of the proposal of the King of the underground treasures, 
and were of opinion that Thor would be pleased with the arrange- 
ment. So the marriage day was fixed. But Thor came home 
before the wedding-day, and was very wroth when he was told the 


" Who art thou, thou pasty-faced fellow ? " he asked of the would- 
be bridegroom ; " Hast thou been with the dead ? Hast thou 
arisen from the grave to snatch the living back with thee to thy 
dismal kingdom ? " 

Alwis now asked him who he was that pretended to have power 
over his bride and to be able to prevent the marriage which was 
already arranged ; but when he found that it was Wingthor, 
Thrud's father, he told him of his possessions and of his wisdom, 
and entreated him to consent. 

Thor, in order to prove him, asked what certain words were in 
the different languages of men, Ases, Wanes, Jotuns, Elves, and ill 

The Dwarf answered everything right; but lo! day began at that 
moment to break, and Alwis was touched by a ray of sunlight, 
whereupon he stiffened into stone, and remained on the heights of 
Asgard, a monument of Thor's victory. 


The Hrimthurses sent out cold winds from the interior of Jotun- 
heim over the fields of Midgard, so^ that the tender green shoots 
were blighted and the harvest spoHt. Thor, therefore, ordered his 
chariot to be got ready, and hastened away to force the giants to 
keep within bounds. Loki joined him with flattering speeches, and 
the Thunderer thought that it might be as well to take him with 
him, as he knew his way about the wilderness so well. 

Thor's goats went so q uickly tha t the travellers reached the bar e 
rocks of the gia nts' country by the evening. 

They saw a lonely farmhouse, and the owner offered them hos- 
pitality, but could only give them a poor supper. Thor, therefore, 
slew his goats and boiled them in a pot. He then invited his host 
and all his people to join him at supper, but commanded them to 



throw all the bones on the skins which he had spread out on the 
floor, and to beware how they broke any. 

Cunning Loki whispered to the farmer's son, Thialfi, that he 
ought to break one of the thigh bones, as the marrow in it was good 
to eat. Thialfi followed the evil counsel, and found that the mar- 
row was indeed most excellent. 

Next morning Thor waved his hammer over the skins and bones, 
and immediately the goats jumped up, but one of them was lame 
in the hind leg. The god was very angry, his eyes flashed, his 
right hand closed round the handle of his hammer, and a thunder- 
clap shook the house to its foundations. The farmer, who had been 
flung upon his face, begged for mercy, and his wife and children 
Joined him in his entreaties ; he offered his son Thialfi and his 
daug hter Ros kwa in atonement for the broken thigh-bone. 

Then the angry god grew calm, and accepted the expiation 
offered him ; he left his goats and chariot behind and walked on 
with his companion and the sturdy children of the farmer towards 

They crossed high mountains, and went through deep valleys 
until they came to a broad sound. When they had crossed the 
sound, their way led them over a stony country and through a 
dark wood that seemed as if it would never end. The ground was 
covered with a grey mist, out of which an iceberg, resembling a 
corpse-like ghost, here and there reared its head. All was dim 
and uncertain, as though surrounded by enchantment. 

The travellers pursued their journey all day long, Thialfi, the 
quickest runner in the country, always keeping in front with 
Thor's travelling bag. 

In the evening they reached a strange, roomy inn, in which 
there was neither inhabitant nor food to be found ; yet they lay 
down to rest, as they felt very hungry. 

At midnight a violent earthquake shook the house, but they 


succeeded in finding a place within the building that seemed to be 
more secure than the rest ; there Thor's companions took refuge, 
whilst he, hammer in hand, kept watch by the entrance. Loud 
sounds of roaring and snorting disturbed the sleep of the travellers. 
The Prince of the Ases awaited the morning. 

When it grew light, he perceived a man of mighty stature, 
whose snoring had been the cause of all the noise they had heard. 
He felt very much inclined to bless the snorer's sleep with a 
goodly blow of his hammer, but at that very moment the giant 

In reply to his question, " Who art thou ? " the giant answered 
that his name was Skrymir, and added that he knew perfectly 
well that his questioner was Asathor. As he said this, he began 
to look about for his glove. And how great was the astonishment 
of the Ase, when he discovered that he and his companions had 
spent the night in the giant's glove, and that when they had been 
startled out of their first resting-place, they had taken refuge in 
the thumb. 

Skrymir gave himself no further trouble about the surprise of 
the strangers, but laid out his breakfast and devoured it, whilst 
the travellers took some provisions for themselves out of Thor's 
bag. The giant then tied up all his belongings in a bundle, threw 
it over his broad back, and walked on before the others through 
the wood at such a pace that they could hardly follow him. In 
the evening they took up their quarters for the night under an 
oak tree, the top of which reached the clouds. 

The Jotun gave the travellers the remains of the food in his 
bundle, because, he said, sleep was more necessary for him than 
food. The strong Thunderer vainly strove to unfasten the cord tied 
round the bundle. Enraged by this failure, he pulled his girdle of 
strength tighter round his waist, and seizing Miolnir with both 
hands, dealt a terrible blow on the head of the snoring giant, who 


merely rubbed the place with his hand, and asked whether a leaf 
had fallen on his head. 

At midnight the wood again re-echoed with his snores. Thor 
now hit the monster again as hard as he could on the crown. The 
hammer made a deep hole, but Skrymir thought that it was only 
an acorn that had fallen upon him, and soon began to snore again. 

Towards morning the angry Ase dealt a third dreadful blow at 
the giant ; the earth trembled, rocks fell with a horrible crash ; 
the hammer penetrated the giant's skull, so that the end was 
hidden. Nevertheless, Skrymir rose quietly and said : — 

" So, thou art awake already, Asathor. Look, some birds, when 
building their nests, have let a little bit of stick fall on my temple ; 
it is bruised. We must part here ; my way lies to the north, and 
yours to Utgard in the east. You will soon see Utgard-Loki's 
castle before you. There you will find bigger men than I. 
Beware lest any of you open your mouths too wide in boastful 
talk ; for if you do, you will get into difficulties." 

Skrymir went straight on through the wood, while the others 
turned in the direction he had pointed out to them. 

About noon they came in sight of the giant's castle, which was 
large and shining as an iceberg. They slipped in between the 
bars of the postern gate, and entered the royal hall. 

There sat Utgard-Loki, Prince of the Thurses, on his th ron e, 
and ranged around him on benches were his warriors and c ourtier s. 
He stared at the travellers in surprise. 

" I know ye well, little people," he cried, in a voice that re- 
sembled the rumbling of a falling rock. " I know thee, Asathor, 
and guess that thou canst do more than thy appearance would 
justify one in supposing. Now tell me what each of you can do, 
for no one is allowed to sit down here without showing himself 
to be good for something." 

First of all Loki vaunted his powers in eating. 



"A good thing to be able to do on a journey," said the King; 
" for then one can eat enough at one meal to last for eight days. 
Logi, my cook, shall try with thee which is the better trencher- 
man. We shall see which of you can eat the most." 

A large trough was filled with meat, and the two heroes stood 
one at each end of it, and tried which could devour the fastest. 
They met in the middle ; Loki had eaten one half of the meat, 
and Logi the other ; but as the latter had at the same time 
disposed of the bones and the trough as well, he walked away 
from the table proud of his victory. 

Thialfi announced that he was swift of foot, and challenged the 
courtiers to race with him in the lists, h. young fellow named 
Hugin ac ce pted the challe nge. He turned back at the goal just 
as the farmer's son reached it. 

" Well run for a stranger, by my beard," growled the Prince of 
the Thurses ; " but now make better speed." However, Thialfi was 
farther behind at the second turn, and at the third he had full 
half the course to run when Hugin turned at the goal. 

It was now time for Thor to show what he could do. He first 
said that he could drink a long draught. The Thurse commanded 
that the horn should be brought that some could empty at one 
draught, many at two, and the weakest at three. The Ase looked 
at the horn. It was long, but it was narrow, and he thought ' 
he could easily dispose of the contents. Nevertheless, the first 
draught hardly uncovered the rim, the second very little more, 
and the third a few inches at most. Much ashamed, he gave 
back the horn ; he could drink no more. 

He then spoke of his strength. Utgard-Loki told him to pick 
up the grey cat which was lying purring at his feet. The hammer- 
thrower imagined that he could fling the cat up to the ceiling ; 
but his first attempt to lift it only made it arch its back, at the 
second it arched its back a little more, at the third he raised one 


paw from the ground ; farther than that he could not move it. 
He heard with rage the scornful laughter with which his fruitless 
efforts were greeted from the benches. Lightning flashed from his 
eyes ; he challenged the courtiers to wrestle with him in the lists. 

" That will go ill with thee," said the King, stroking his beard '. 
" try first what thou canst do here against Elli, my old nurse ; she 
has conquered stronger men than a shrimp like thee before now." 

The old woman was ready by this time, and seized strong Thor, 
who exerted all his strength to try and overthrow her. But she 
stood as immovable as a rock, and used her own strength so well, 
that he sank upon one knee. 

"Enough," cried the Jotun. "Sit down, strangers, and enjoy 
my hospitality." 

On the following morning the king accompanied them as far 
as the wood. 

" Here," he said, " are the borders of my domain, which you 
should never have crossed had I known more about you. Let me 
now tell you how I have tricked you. Three times, Asathor, didst 
thou strike at my head ; but I always shoved a mountain between 
me and thee. Look, dost thou see the marks made by thy 
hammer, three deep abysses, the last of which reaches down to the 
Home of the Black- Elves? The cook Logi, who measured his 
strength against Loki, and who devoured even the bones and the 
trough, was wild-fire. Hugin, was Thought, whom neither Thialfi 
nor any other runner could expect to overtake. The drinking 
horn was connected with the ocean. Thou didst drink so much 
that every shore was left uncovered, and the people said : ' It is 
ebb tide.' Thine eyes were blinded when thou didst lift the grey 
cat, for then thou didst swing the Midgard-snake as high as 
heaven, and she had nearly wriggled herself free and done irre- 
parable injury. Elli, the nurse, who looked so weak, was old age, 
which none can withstand when his time has come. Go now, for 


this is my realm, where I have dominion over theHrimthurses 
and their rocky fas tnesses. Where I rule, there is no space for 
men to cultivate the land, yet Asathor might split the mountains 
and the eternal ice with his thunder." 

Thor had already raised his hammer to punish the Jotun for his 
magic spells, but he had vanished. A bare, stone-strewed wilder- 
ness surrounded him and his companions. Columns of mist 
hovered here and there, out of which Jotuns were peering, now with 
a smile of scorn and again looking down grimly, now sinking and 
again rising in the. air, so that the travellers did not know what 
was real and what enchanted. They then set out on their return 
to Thrudheim. 

The natural myth which gave rise to this poem of the Younger 
Edda is very suitable for our collection. Not even the mighty Ase 
could make it possible for man to cultivate the soil amongst the 
great mountains, where rock is piled upon rock, and all are covered 
with ice and snow. Thialfi is the diligeince which must animate 
the farmer, and his sister Roskwa is the quickness and activity 
which must attend him. 

Duel with Hrungnir. — ^Thor passed some happy days in his halls 
of Bilskirnir. His fair wife Sif, who kept the house in good order, 
was beautiful as the May moon ; her artistically-made golden hair 
grew daily longer, and fell over her neck and shoulders in ringlets. 
The god had great pleasure in his son Magni, who, although only 
three years old, was as tall and strong as a man. The Jotuns in 
the neighbourhood were all quiet, for they did not care to harm 
the husbandmen's crops. Still, the farmers who lived far away in 
valleys amid the inhospitable mountains, often called upon the 
helpful Ase to defend them against the monsters, who sent storms, 
floods, avalanches, and falling rocks, to disturb them in their peace- 
ful labours. Thor then hastened with Miolnir to punish the peace- 
breakers in the east. 


Allfather Odin was away on his travels, now ruling the battles 
of mortal men, now searching after wisdom, and now wooing the 
favour of women with loving words. Upon one of these journeys 
he arrived at the castle of the Mountain-giant, Hrungnir, where 
he was hospitably received. Whilst they were talking together, 
the Jotun remarked that Sleipnir was a good horse, but that his 
own horse, Gullfaxi (golden mane), was better, and that it could 
leap farther with its four feet than the former with its eight. 

" Well," cried Odin, " I will wager my head upon my horse. 
Catch me if thou canst." 

He jumped upon Sleipnir and galloped away, the giant pursuing 
him with a giant's rage. 

Swift as the storm-wind, the Father of the gods galloped on far 
ahead. Hrungnir was not aware, in his haste, that his golden- 
maned horse was thundering over the bridge Bifrost until he 
stopped at the gates of Walhalla. Then the King of the Ases 
came out to meet him, and in return for his hospitality led him 
into the hall. To Hrungnir was given the enormous goblet, full 
of foaming beer, from which Thor was accustomed to drink. In 
his ill-humour, he emptied it in a few draughts, and asked in his 
intoxication for more and more. 

" Ha ! " he exclaimed, " none of you know me yet. I will take 
Walhalla upon my back and carry it off to Jotunheim. I will 
throw Asgard into the abyss of Nifelhel, and strangle you all, 
except Freya and Sif, whom I will take home with me. I will 
empty all your beer barrels to the sediment. Bring me what you 
have. Freya shall be my cup-bearer." 

The trembling goddess poured him out a bumper, but the other 
Ases called aloud for Thor. 

The god appeared in the hall with the speed of the lightning 
that flashes down from the sky. 

" Who has permitted the Thurse to sit down in holy Asgard ? " 


he demanded in a voice of tiiunder. " Why does Freya give him 
the drinking-horn ? His head shall be broken in punishment for 

And as he said these words, his eyes sparkled and his hand 
closed round the shaft of his hammer. 

Then Hrungnir immediately at once became sober. He stam- 
mered out that Odin had invited him to the feast, and that it 
would be dishonourable of Thor to attack an unarmed man. Yet 
he would be ready to fight with him at Griottunagard (rolling- 
stone, or also rock-wall) in the borders of Jotunheim. 

The Ase could not withdraw from this challenge, and the Jotun 
made all the haste he could to reach home with a whole skin. 

Everywhere and in all countries the coming duel was talked 
about. The Jotuns knew that their best fighting man was going 
to venture on a dangerous undertaking. They consulted together 
how they might ensure him the victory. 

They made a clay man nine miles high and three miles across 
the chest, Mockerkalfi (Mist-wader) by name, who was to help their 
hero in the fight, but who had only a trembling mare's heart in 
his breast. The Jotun himself had a triangular heart of stone, and 
his skull was also of stone, and his shield and his club too. 

Hrungnir and his clay squire awaited Thor at Griottunagard on 
the appointed day. The Ase did not waste time. He drove up 
in the midst of rolling thunder and flashing lightning, surrounded 
by clouds. His quick-footed servant, Thialfi, ran on before him, 
and called out to the Jotun that he was mistaken in holding his 
shield before him, for the god would come up out of the ground 
to attack him. 

Then Hrungnir flung his shield under his feet and seized his club 
in both hand, to be in readiness to throw it, or to hit out with it. 
He now perceived the Ase swinging Miolnir, so he threw his club 
at him with fearful strength. The weapons crashed together in 


the middle of the lists ; but the force of the hammer was so great 
that it splintered the club and broke the stone-head of the giant 
in pieces, felling him almost dead to the ground. Meanwhile a 
splinter from the club had penetrated Thor's forehead, so that he 
also fell, and as it happened, right under the leg of the falling 
giant. Sturdy Thialfi had in the meantime despatched the clay- 
giant with a spade, and had broken him up into the clay from 
which he had been made. He now tried to help his master, but 
could not lift the giant's leg. Other Ases tried also, until at length 
the strong boy Magni came up. And he pushed aside the heavy 
weight as though it were a mere trifle, saying : 

" What a pity it is. Father, that I did not come sooner ; I could 
have broken that fellow's stone head with my fist." 

" Thou wilt be a strong man," said Thor ; " and thou shalt have 
the good horse Gullfaxi as a reward for helping me." 

He then strove to pull the stone splinter out of his brow, but 
could neither move it nor could he even loosen it, so he was forced 
to drive home to Thrudheim with an aching head. 

Loving Sif and anxious Thrud vainly endeavoured to alleviate 
the pain Thor was enduring. The prophetess Groa (green-making) 
now came to the house. She could move rocks with her magic 
spells, and also stop the course of wild floods. She offered to cure 
Thor. Then she drew her circles and sang her wondrous songs. 
The stone began already to shake and grow looser, and the 
wounded Ase hoped for a speedy cure. In order to give Groa 
pleasure, he told her, while she murmured her spells, that he had 
waded across the ice-stream Eliwagar, carrying her husband, 
Orwandil, on his back, and had broken off one of Orwandil's 
frost-bitten toes, which he had flung up into the sky, where it was 
now shining like a star. 

" And now," he said, " he is on his way home to thee." 

Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when Groa sprang up 


joyfully, forgetting all about her magic spells. And so the splinter 
remained in Thor's forehead. 

According to the poet Uhland, this is a poetical description 
of th(2 splitting of the rocks by the crashing hammer of the god. 
Thialfi, the diligent husbandman, conquered the clay giant, the 
uncultivated ground, while Thor made agriculture possible among 
the rocks. He was hurt by the falling stones when doing this. 
Groa (the green-making), the sprouting power in plants, was married 
to Orwandil (living seed), whom Thor carried on his shoulders 
through the wintry ice-streams Eliwagar. Mannhardt looks upon 
Orwandil as lightning sparks. We refrain from noticing further 
the different interpretations put upon the story. The skald found 
the natural myth, touched the strings of his harp and sang his song 
with all his heart, careless whether he gave the old myth in all its 
part iculars or not. 

Journey to Hymir. — In this myth the terrors of the polar regions 
are described. It was in that northern realm that the Frost-giant 
Hymir (the dusk-maker) ruled, and in his house lived the golden, 
white-browed goddess of light, who had been stolen from her 
home, and also the nine-hundred headed grandmother, the moun- 
tains of ice and snow. 

Hymir was guardian of the great brewing vat, whose depth 
might be counted by miles ; by this was probably meant the 
Arctic Ocean, through which the summer god, Thor, opened a 
passage for seafaring men. Thor conquered the terrors of the 
Arctic climate before which even the bold Wikings drew back 
appalled, while in our days, brave North Pole voyagers face them 

Thus Uhland explains the myth, and we feel inclined to agree 
with him ; nevertheless, this journey to Hymir is said by other 
commentators to mean a descent into the Under-world. Perhaps 
both explanations are admissible, for all nature is dead in winter, 


buried under a pall of snow, and the ideas of winter and death 
are frequently interchangeable. Strong Thor, therefore, descended 
into the Under-world, conquered its terrors, as he did those of the 
Hrimthurses, and returned home victorious, in like manner as 
Herakles did in the Greek myth, which ascribes to him a heroic 
deed of the same kind as this. 


Night with her starry diadem had spread her mantle over 
Asgard. Every creature was asleep ; the Ases in their golden 
chambers, and the Einheriar stretched out on the benches of Wal- 
halla after a goodly feast on the flesh of Sahrimnir, and many a 
draught of delicious mead. They dreamt happy dreams of brave 
deeds and of the joys of victory. 

Wingt'ftor alone tossed restlessly about on his cushions of down. 
He heard in his dreams the murmur of wicked runes, and saw a 
gigantic hand seize hold of Miolnir. At length he was awakened 
by hollow peals of thunder. He snatched at the hammer which 
always lay by his bedside, but could not find it. Angrily he 
sprang to his feet and felt about for it ; but it was gone ; the faint 
light of morning showed that the place where he had laid it was 
empty. He shook his head wrathfully and his eyes flashed fire. 
His beard grew redder than ever, and the house trembled at his 
shout : 

" Miolnir is gone ; it has been stolen by enchantment." 

Loki heard his cry, and said to him : 

" I will get thee back thy hammer, whoever has stolen it, if 
Freya will lend me her Falcon-dress." 


So they went to Folkwang and entered the presence of Freya. 
They addressed her in courteous words, and asked her to lend 
them her feather-garment, that they might spy out who had stolen 

And the gentle goddess answered : " You may have it. I would 
lend it to you willingly, even if it were made of silver or gold." 

She then took the dress out of a chest and gave it to the Ases. 
And now Loki flew with rhythmic strokes of his wings, high above 
the precincts of Asgard and the swift river Ifing, until he reached 
the barren mountains of Jotunheim. 

Thrym,3 gnpce of the Thurses, was sitting there^on_a hill. He 
was decorating his dogs, that ran quickly as the wind, with golden 
ribbons, and making the manes of his fiery horses shine. 

"What news dost thou bring from Asgard, that thou comest 
alone to Thrymheim ? " he called out to the new-comer : " how 
goes it with the Ases and how with the Elves ? " 

" Badly with both Ases and Elves," answered Loki, " for Miol- 
nir is lost. Speak, hast thou hidden it anywhere ? " 

Then the Thurse laughed, and said : " I have hidden it eight 
miles deep in a cleft of the earth ; and no one shall have it unless 
he brings me Freya as a bride to my halls." 

Enraged at his message, Loki flew back over the Ifing river to 
Asgard, where Thor awaited him. He gave the message of the 
wicked Thurse. 

Again Thor and Loki went to visit the goddess in her shining 
hall at Folkwang. 

" Up and dress thyself, Freya," said Thor ; " put on thy snowy 
bridal garments, and I will take thee to Thrym, prince of the 

Then the goddess' anger was kindled at this address, and she 
started from her throne, making the palace shake to its founda- 


" You may call me mad," she cried, " if ever I follow thee in 
bridal array to Thrymheim, to the Prince of the Thurses, monster 
that he is." 

Having thus spoken, she dismissed the Ases from her presence 
without a word of farewell. 

The Ases now all assembled on their seats of justice near the 
fountain of Urd, that they might consult together as to the best 
means of rescuing the hammer from the power of the Giants. 

The first to speak was Heimdal, the god who resembled a Want 
in wisdom ; he said : — 

" Let Thor himself put on the bridal garments, let a bunch of 
keys jingle at his waist, let precious stones sparkle upon his neck, 
let his knees be covered by the petticoats of a woman, and a veil 
be put before his face. 

The Prince of the Ases did not approve of the advice of wise 
Heimdal. He would, he said, be always called a woman in future, 
if he ever put on female apparel. But when Loki replied that if 
he did not get back the hammer the giants would soon come to 
live in Asgard, he consented to do as the Ases entreated. 

Soon afterwards he sat in his chariot dressed as a bride, and 
JLoki, son of Laufey, in the guise of a serving maid, seated him- 
self by his side. 

The goats set off ; they rushed in wild leaps through Asgard 
and Midgard ; the earth smoked, and rocks and mountains split 
with loud reports wherever they went. 

Thrym was sitting comfortably at the threshold of his hall. He 
watched his golden-horned cows coming home, he saw his large 
herds of black bullocks, his stores of gold and precious stones in 
their iron caskets. 

" I have a great store of riches," he said ; " the only thing 
wanting now is that Freya should be my wife. And to-morrow 
she will enter my halls ; so strew the benches my men, and have 


plenty of food and mead in readiness, for it beseems a spacious 
hall like mine that the wedding should be a merry one." 

Early next morning the visitors arrived, and soon afterwards 
his bride was sitting beside Thrym, well-veiled, as modesty and 
custom demanded. 

The tables were laden with costly food and wine, which were a 
pleasure to look at as well as to eat and drink. No one could 
rival the bride, however. She ate a fat ox in no time, then eight 
huge salmon, and all the sweet cakes that were made for the 
women, and in addition she drank two barrels of mead. The 
Thurse was astonished at her hunger. 

" Well," he exclaimed, " I never before saw a bride with such an 
appetite, nor did I ever see a girl drink mead in such a degree !" 

But the serving maid assured him that her mistress had tasted 
neither bite nor sup for a week, so excited had she been at the 
thought of her wedding. 

The Jotun wished to kiss his bride on hearing this, and raised 
her veil for the purpose ; but at the sight of Freya's flaming eyes, 
which seemed as though they flashed fire at him, he shrank back 
to the end of the room. 

But the wise maid calmed down his apprehensions. " My lady," 
she said, " has not slept for a week, and that is the reason her 
eyes are so fiery." 

The gaunt sister of the Thurse now approached the bride to 
ask for a wedding present. 

"Give me," she entreated, "golden rings and a pair of buckles, 
and thou shalt enjoy my love." 

Unmoved by this appeal, the bride sat silent in her wedding 
array. Then the Prince, intoxicated with love and mead, com- 
manded that the hammer should be brought from its hiding-place, 
that the marriage might be solemnized in the usual way. 

"And then," he added, "place it in the lap of the bride." 



It seemed at that moment as though the bride were stifling 
a laugh beneath her veil, and indeed a ferocious laugh was heard 
when the Prince's command had been obeyed. 

Now the bride rose, and threw off her veil ; it was Asathor, 
terrible to look upon ; he raised his bare arm and held Miolnir 
aloft in his mighty right hand. The walls of the room tottered 
and cracked, a peal of thunder shook the house and a flash of 
lightning darted through the hall. Thrym lay stretched on the 
floor with a broken head ; his guests and his servants fell under 
the blows of the hammer ; not even his gaunt sister escaped. The 
flames made their way out through the roof; and house and hall 
fell with a loud crash. A smoking heap of ruins alone remained 
to show the place where the powerful Thrym had ruled. 

The spring sun rose ; it shone down upon the devastated dwelling, 
the broken rocks, fallen stones, torn and uprooted soil, and upon 
the victorious god who had conquered the power of the enemy. 

The storm-clouds of anger were gone from Thor's brow. He 
stood upon the height and gazed at his work of destruction with 
a gentle and kindly look upon his face. Then he called his 
children of men to come and instil new life into the destruction, 
so that farms and dwelling houses, agriculture and commerce, 
civic order, law and morality should arise and flourish there. And 
so into this conquered land came farmers and builders, with 
hatchet, spade, and plough ; herdsmen with their cattle and sheep, 
and mighty hunters to keep down the numbers of bears and 
wolves. And Thor was in the midst of them, setting up stones 
to mark the boundaries, consecrating the tilled land with his 
hammer ; then the grateful people erected an altar to him, made 
a great feast in his honour, and promised him the first-fruits of 
their labour. After that Thor got into his chariot, followed by 
Loki, and together they returned to Asgard rejoicing in what they 
had done. 


We have pointed here to the natural myth which lies at the 
foundation of this poem. The myth is one of the most beautiful 
in the Elder Edda. The poet has made free use of the materials 
that were at his disposal, so that the most minute details of the 
primitive myth can never be discovered; yet the following can 
be made out with certainty. 

The beneficent Thunder god, who ruled over summer, was 
deprived of his hammer in the winter; Thrym (Thunder) hid 
it eight miles deep in the ground, i.e., for eight months. He 
desired to have possession of Freya, the fair goddess of spring, 
in order that he might deprive man of the bright weather she 
brought with her. But Thor regained his hammer, and slew the 
Frost-giant and his followers, and his gaunt sister too, who accord- 
ing to Uhland was the famine that haunts rude mountain districts. 
Thus the god opened a new field to human industry. 


Loki once took Frigg's falcon-dress ; he wrapped himself in 
it and hovered over many an abyss and broad stream until he had 
flown right above the barren rocks and ice of Jotunheim. He 
saw a chimney in the distance, out of which fire and smoke were 
issuing. Quickly he flew there, and perceived that the chimney 
belonged to a rambling grange. 

This was Geirod's-Gard, where Prince Geirod, the Hrimthurse, 
dwelt with his people. The Ase was curious to know what was 
going on in the large hall, and fluttered down close to the window. 
But the Thurse caught sight of the falcon, and sent a servant 
out to catch it. Loki amused himself by making the man climb 
the high railing above which he fluttered, taking care to keep, as 
he thought, just out of reach ; but suddenly he was caught by the 
leg and given to the giant. 


"This is a strange-looking bird," said Geirod, staring into the 
falcon's eyes as though he thought he could thus discover its 
character. "Tell me," he asked, addressing it, "whence thou 
comest, and what thou really art ? " 

But the bird remained silent and motionless. 

So the Prince determined to tame him through hunger, and 
locking him up in a chest left him there for three months without 

When he was taken out at the end of that time, Loki told 
who he was and begged to be set free. 

At this the Thurse laughed so loud that he shook the hall and 
the whole grange. 

"At length," he exclaimed, "I have got what I have long 
desired, a hostage of the Ases. I will not let thee go until thou 
hast sworn a holy oath to bring me Thor, the Giant-killer, without 
his hammer and girdle of strength, that I may fight him hand 
to hand. I expect that I shall conquer him as easily as I would 
a boy, and then I shall send him down to Hel's dark realm." 

Loki promised with a holy oath to do as the giant bade, and 
flew quickly away. 

When the cunning Asa had recovered from his fatigue, he 
remembered his oath. He told strong Thor that Geirod had 
received him most hospitably, and that he had expressed a great 
wish to see the unconquerable protector of Asgard face to face, 
but without the terrible signs of his power, of which he was much 
afraid. Loki went on to say that there were strange things to be 
seen at the giant's house which were not to be seen elsewhere. 
Thor listened to the tempter, and at once set out on his journey, 
accompanied by Loki. 

On his way to Geirods-gard he met the giantess Grid, by whom 
Odin had once had a son named Widar, the silent. She told him 
Avhat the true character of Geirod was, and lent him her girdle 


of Strength, and her staff and iron glove as a defence against the 

The day after this, he and Loki reached the broad river Wimur, 
which stretched out before them Hke a sea, and was so wide that 
the other shore was invisible. When Thor began to wade across, 
steadying himself by means of his staff, the water rose, and the 
waves beat wildly against his shoulders. 

" Do not rise, Wimur," he cried, " for I must wade over to the 
giant's house." 

Then he saw Geirbd's daughter, Gialp, standing in the cleft 
of a rock and making the water rise. He forced her to flee by 
throwing a great stone at her, and afterwards got safely over 
to the other bank, which he managed to climb, swinging himself 
up by means of a service tree. Loki also got safely over, for 
he clung to Thor's girdle the whole way. 

When the travellers saw the chimney with the fire issuing 
from it, and the castle high as a mountain just in front of 
them, they knew that they had got to the end of their journey. 

They went into the entrance hall. Thor seated himself wearily 
upon the only chair that was to be seen. But he soon discovered 
that it was rising higher and higher, so that he was in danger 
of being crushed against the ceiling. He pressed the end of 
his staff against the beams that ran across the top of the hall, 
and with all his Ase-strength tried to force the chair down again. 
A terrible crack and a cry of pain told him that he had hurt 
some living creature in his struggles. Gialp and Greip, Geirbd's 
daughters, had raised the chair on which he was sitting, and 
they now lay under it with broken backs, victims of their own 

A monster serving-man now challenged Thor to a fencing 
bout in the great hall. On entering it the Ase saw with 
amazement that fires were burning all round the walls, the 


flames and smoke of which rose through the chimney he had 
seen before. 

Instead of giving him courteous greeting, the Jotun king flung 
an iron wedge at him, which he had taken red hot out of the 
furnace with a pair of tongs. But Thor caught it in his iron glove 
and threw it back with such impetus that it broke through the 
brazen breastplate and body of the Jotun, and then crashed 
through the wall, burying itself deep in the earth on the other 
side of it. Thor looked down on the cowering giant who had 
at once turned into stone. He set him up as a monument 
of his victory, and there the petrified monster remained for 
centuries, reminding succeeding generations of men of the great 
deeds done by Asathor. 

This is said to be another of the natural myths which tell 
how the beneficent god of summer conquered the destructive 
tempest with his own weapons ; the two daughters are supposed 
to be personifications of the mountain torrents which caused rivers 
to overflow. 

According to some, however, this legend, like the last one, 
describes a descent of the god into the Underworld, and there 
is also a similar one related by Saxo Grammaticus, of which 
Thorkill is the hero. 

But we are of opinion that it is far more likely to have been 
in the volcanic island of Iceland that Thor was victorious over 
the demon. The island was known to the skalds, from the 
descriptions of bold sailors, long before its colonization by the 
Northmen. Tales of volcanic eruptions and hot springs must 
have excited the imagination of the poets extremely. Thus 
perhaps arose the myth of Thor's journey to Geirods-gard, in 
which the god conquers the demon of subterranean fire. This 
view is supported by the shape of a rock near Haukadal, where, 
within a circle of 900 feet, are geysers and strocks. The rock 


is said to resemble a gigantic man cowering down, his body broken 
in the middle. 


In this poem Odin acts the part of a ferryman, under the name 
of Harbard, refuses to row Thor, the god of agriculture, over 
the river, and sends him on his way with opprobrious words. 

The reason was, that Odin was the god of the spirit and the 
warlike courage which animated the nobles and their retainers. 
The proud warriors and skalds despised the peaceful peasantry 
who remained quietly at home, lived upon herrings and oatmeal 
porridge, and hated the devastation caused by war ; while they, 
on the contrary, were continually fighting for wealth and glory, 
and hoped to rise to Odin's halls after death upon the field of 

This contempt for the tiller of the soil is clearly shown in the 
Lay, which makes the protector of agriculture play a very pitiful 
part. The myth had its rise in later times, when the old faith 
in the gods and deep reverence for them had already begun to 

The bold Wikings did not hesitate to say that they trusted 
more in their own good swords than in the help of Odin and 
Asathor. The Lay was perhaps composed at that time, but 
still, it rested on an older one, in which the myth of agriculture, 
of the apparent death of Fiorgyn or Jord, mother of Thor, through 
the devastation caused by war, and of the renewed life of the 
Earth-goddess, were more clearly described 


As we have before remarked, the Prince of the Ases was 
worshipped as one of the holy ones by the Teutonic race ; it is 
probable that he was also adored under the name of Irmin, and 


that the different Irmin-columns were dedicated to him. But 
Irmin means universal, and it was to the universal, omnipotent 
god that the Irmin-columns were erected. It was he who helped 
the Teutons to victory in their battles against the Romans ; for 
this reason the celebrated Irmin-column, which was destroyed 
nearly 800 years later by Charlemagne, was set up in his honour 
at Osning (in the Teutoburg Forest). It also reminds us of 
the hero Armin, who was held in great reverence, and whose 
name and character were in process of time confounded with those 
of the god. 

Irmin was also supposed to be identical with the mythical 
hero Iring, who, when the Franks and the Saxons were fighting 
against the Thuringians, traitorously slew his lord, Irminfried, 
and then killed the false-hearted ruler of the Franks. After this 
he cut his way through the ranks of the enemy, sword in hand, 
and did many other heroic deeds. If this hero was the same as 
Irmin, he was very different from Thor, whose nature in all the 
myths regarding him was always true-hearted, and never cunning. 
But the legend also makes out the traitor to have been different 
from the god, for, after their victory, the Saxons erected a pillar 
to Irmin, and not to the Thuringian Iring. 

Irmin was the common god of many tribes, and some philolo- 
gists derive the name " German " from him. He was the guardian 
deity of the Thuringians, Katti, and Cherusci, and showered 
down his blessings upon them as he drove over the firmament of 
heaven in the Irmin-wain (Great Bear or Charles' Wain). The 
Milky-way, Iring or Irmin-road, the way of souls, was also sacred 
to him, and thus he was the ruler of souls, and identical with 
Aryama, the national god of all the Aryan races in the oldest 
times. The Kelts worshipped the same god under the names of 
Erimon and Erin, whence Ireland and the Irish are called after 
him. The chariot in which he drove throuQ;h the heavens showed 


his relationship to Thor according to the oldest ideas ; but still 
Odin, the Le ader of souls, had much in common with him. Tyr, 
the ancient god of heaven, the sword-god, was, however, yet more 
nearly kin to him, because he was depicted in warlike array, and 
because the monuments of victory, the Irmin-columns, were called 
after him. Several places have also derived their names from 


Who is there, who, after a hard day's work, has not rejoiced to 
see the approach of quiet Mother Night, when, wrapped in her 
starry mantle, she brings back peace to the world which has been 
robbed of it by restless Day ? 

This feeling of peace has often been destroyed by a sound that 
has something mysterious and strange about it. It is only the 
long-drawn howl of a dog, a sound that is heard most frequently 
when the moon is shining brightly ; but it has something grue- 
some in it, and this accounts for the popular belief that it betokens 
the death of the person who hears it. 

A circumstance of this kind happened once upon a time within 
the holy precincts of Asgard. 

Mani (the moon) was following Mother Night merrily in his 
chariot, when suddenly he started and his happy face became 
clouded, for out of a great abyss there arose a howling noise which 
quickly swelled to a dreadful roar, so that the whole earth 
trembled as after a peal of thunder. 

The Ases were awakened by it, and the Einheriar snatched at 
their weapons, for they thought that Ragnarok had come. 
Amongst t hem stood Tyr, tall and slen der as a pine, and unmoved 
by the terrors that they had expected . 

" Fenris," he said, " has been wakened by the moon, and wants 
something to eat ; I will go and feed him." 


Then he set out in the night, laden with living and dead animals 
with which to appease the monster's rapacity. Once more the 
terrible roar was heard, then it seemed that the monster was 
quieted ; only the cracking and crunching of the bones of the 
animals he devoured could now be heard. 

In the morning the Ases held council as to what was to be 
done ; for the Wolf was slinking about, casting greedy looks at 
Asgard, as though he were devising how to break into the castles 
of the gods and carry off the spoil. They saw how gigantic he 
had grown, and knew that he daily increased in size and strength. 

Heimdal pointed at Thor's hammer, and at Gungnir, the death- 
spear, in Odin's hand ; but Allfather said gravely : 

" The black blood of the monster may not soil the sacred courts 
of the gods. A chain must be made, so strong that it cannot be 
broken ; then let him be bound with it, that his rage may be held 
in check." 

The word was spoken, the work must be done. The Ases 
forged the chain Leuthing as quickly as they could, and took it to 
the Lyngwi island, where the Wolf, enticed by Tyr,- followed them 

The Wolf peacefully allowed himself to be bound, for he knew 
his own strength. When he was fully chained, he twisted and 
stretched himself, and the iron-ropes broke in pieces like weak 

A second chain, called Droma, much stronger than the first, 
was made, and he bore it for a moment ; then he shook himself 
violently, and it fell clattering to the ground, broken to pieces. 

The Ases stood round him silent and not knowing what to do, 
while Fenris increased his strength by devouring the food that 
had been thrown to him. 

Wishfather now sent Skirnir, a young but wise and able servant 
of Freyer, to the Home of the Black-Elves, to get the Elves, who 


were versed in magic lore, and who lived in the bowels of the 
earth, to make fetters that should bind the Destroyer. 

The underground people made a chain, small and slight as a 
silken thread, which they called Gleipnir. They said that it 
would grow stronger and stronger the more the prisoner strove to 
free himself from it. 

Skirnir took the chain to the Ases. The All-Devourer resisted, 
and opened his mighty jaws threatening to swallow up all who 
tried to bind him ; for he guessed that there was magic power 
concealed in the slight fetters. 

Then brave Tyr came forward, petted and stroked the monster, 
and put his right hand into his jaws. Fenris thought this a sign 
that no evil was meant, so he allowed the slender chain to be 
bound around his neck and feet. 

When this was done, he stretched himself violently, en- 
deavouring to break his bonds, but they only became the stronger 
and cut into his skin and flesh. He had already bitten off Tyr's 
hand, and now he opened his blood-red jaws to seize the god 
himself and the other Ases too. But they feared the wild beast 
no longer ; they thrust a sharp sword into his gaping mouth till 
the point penetrated the palate above and prevented him 

Then they fastened Gleipnir to two great rocks, that the Wolf 
might not get away. In vain the monster howled day and night 
while the blood ran down between his jaws and collected in the 
river Wan ; he could not break his bonds. 

Thus is crime, which threatens to corrupt the human race, bound 
by the apparently slight fetters of law, and as the power of the 
Wolf was broken by the sword, that of crime is kept under by the 
awards of justice. When a people no longer heeds the law, and 
throws aside all civic order, crime frees itself from its fetters, and 
the nation rushes to its ruin as surely as Gleipnir would be broken 


in the Twilight of the Gods, as surely as the AU-Devourer would 
become freed from his chains and from the sword. 

Tyr was called Tius by the Goths, Tio or Zio by the Anglo- 
Saxons, and the same by the Suevi, a tribe of whom, the Jut- 
hungen, lived beside the Lake of Constance. They were called 
Ziowari (servants of Zio), because they regarded this god as 
their guardian deity ; the name of their chief town was Ziesburg 
(now Augsburg). The rune that stands for it, and is called 
after the god, is the sign of the sword. It bears the names of 
Tius, Tio, in Old High-German Zio, and besides these, is known 
as Eor, Erch, Erich, and in old Saxon Er, Eru, Heru or Cheru. 
These different appellations were all borne by the god, whose 
worship was so wide-spread. 

Moreover the religion of the Suevi acknowledged a goddess Zisu, 
as is proved from the fragment of a Latin chronicle. She had a 
temple in Augsburg, and was of a warlike nature ; she must there- 
fore have been the female representative of the god Zio or Tyr. 
This god was the expression in ancient times of the impression 
that nature as a whole made upon the minds of those who were 
influenced by her. He was without form, and originally without a 
a name. When the Romans first knew the Germanic race he had 
already become a personality and was endowed with attributes, 
for they compared him with their own Mars, and therefore recog- 
nised him to be the god of war. Thus he had lost his original 

Tyr or Tius, meant brightness, glory, t hen the s hinin g firmament, 
and was derived from the same root as the Hindu Djaus, the 
Greek Zeus, and the Roman Jupiter (Diu-piter, Dies-pater). Rays 
of sunlight and forked lightning both come from the sky, and 
were typified in arrows and deadly missiles. In the middle ages 
arrows were still called rays in German. Hence an arrow became 
the attribute and also the symbol of the omnipotent god of 

^K '•" -\ 

s •=;; 



heaven ; in later times a sword took the place of the arrow as it 
was a stronger weapon in battle. This symbol remained to him 
in the rune and also in the groves which were dedicated to him. 
When his place was afterwards given to Wodan and Thor as the 
ruling gods of heaven, Tyr was looked upon as the god of battles, 
whose help must be entreated during the fight and whose rune 
of victory was scratched on the handles and blades of swords while 
ejaculating the name of the god. 

Tyr was held in much less honour in the time of the skalds ; 
he was then regarded as the son of Odin and the god of unnatural 
warfare that could never be appeased. Odin, the god of the mind, 
of martial courage and of poetic enthusiasm, had taken his place 
as the ideal of Kings and brave Jarls. Thor also, the god of the 
peasant, the benefactor of mankind, helped to force him into the 
background and gained some of the devotion Tyr had lost. 


Nearly related to the warlike Tyr, perhaps identical with him, 
were Heru or Cheru and Saxnot. They were essentially German 
sword-gods, a nd were not known to the norther n skalds. Their 
worship was wide-spread; for the Alanes, Quades, Getes and 
Markomanns paid divine honours to the sword, and even the 
Scythians, as Herodotus tells us, planted it in a high pyramidal 
heap of brush-wood, and called upon it as the symbol of the 
divinity. Many legends are still in existence about it, one of 
which we give as an example. 

Cheru's sword was made in the mysterious smithy of the Dwarfs, 
whose artistic workmanship was celebrated among Ases and men. 
The sons of Iwaldi, who had made Odin's spear, and Sindri, who 
had forged Miolnir, had united their efforts in making the mar- 
vellous weapon on which the fate of kings and nations was to hang. 


The zealous master-smiths worked busily within the earth, when 
Sokwabek was built under the flowing river, until at length the 
shining sword was completed, which Cheru the mighty god re- 

This sword shone every morning on the high-place of the 
sanctuary, sending forth its light afar when dawn arose, like a 
flame of fire ; but one day its place was empty and the rosy light 
of morning only shone upon the altar from which the god had 

The priests and nobles sought the advice of the wise woman. 
This was the inscrutable answer they received. 

" The Norns wandered on the ways of night ; the moon had 
hidden his face ; they laced the threads, strong and powerful, of 
gods and men, that none might break. One towards the east, 
the other towards the west, and one towards the south ; the black 
thread towards the north. They spake to Cheru : ' Go, choose out 
the ruler, the lord of the earth ; give him the two-edged sword to 
his own hurt.' He has it, he holds it in his hands ; but yet Cheru 
the lord will bring it back after a time." 

Startled at this dark oracle, the men begged for an explanation ; 
but the maiden of the tower gave no reply. Meanwhile the story 
relates the course of events, and throws the only light that is given 
upon the riddle. 

Vitellius, the Roman prefect of the Lower Rhine, was supping 
past midnight in his house at Cologne, for he liked the pleasures 
of the table better than all the glory and all the diadems in the 

When he was told that a stranger, bearing important news from 
Germany, wanted to speak to him, he rose impatiently. He 
desired to get rid of him as soon as possible ; but when he entered 
the anteroom, he found himself in the presence of a man of such 
distinguished appearance, that he could not treat him dis- 


courteously. He would have at once taken him for one of the 
Immortals, if his self-indulgent life had not long ago destroyed 
his faith in the religion of his ancestors. 

The stranger gave him a sword of beautiful workmanship, and 
said : 

" Take this weapon ; keep it carefully and use it well, and it 
will bring thee glory and empire. All hail, Caesar Augustus ! " 

The prefect examined the sword ; when he looked up, the 
stranger was gone, and the guard had neither seen him come nor 
go. He returned to the supper-room and told what had happened. 
He drew the sword out of its sheath, and it was as though a flash 
of lightning passed through the room. 

Immediately a voice exclaimed, but whether in the room or not, 
no one could say : " That is the sword of the divine Caesar ! All 
hail, Vitellius ! All hail. Emperor ! " 

The guests at the supper-table joined in the cry and spread 
abroad the news ; next morning the legions greeted Vitellius as 
Emperor. Messengers were despatched on horseback to the other 
provinces, and Fortune seemed to have chosen him as her favourite. 
His general conquered the army of his opponent, Rome opened 
her doors to him and the whole East acknowledged his sway. 

" It was the sword of the divine Caesar that made me master of 
the world," said the Emperor, as he seated himself at table to 
enjoy the delicacies which had been imported by land and water 
from distant countries. He ceased to care for the sword ; he left 
it standing in a corner of the peristylium, where a Teutonic soldier 
of the body-guard found it and took it in exchange for his own 
clumsy old weapon. 

The new possessor of the sword watched the conduct of the 
Emperor with displeasure, for Vitellius cared for nothing but the 
pleasures of eating and drinking ; he paid no attention to the 
affairs of the Empire, or to the wants of the soldiers ; he took no 


notice when far away in Asia brave Vespasian had been proclaimed 
Caesar by his legions. 

The German soldier left the Emperor's service and mixed 
himself with the idle populace. Meanwhile one misfortune after 
another befel the gluttonous Emperor. Provinces, generals, armies 
forsook hirti ; the enemy's troops approached the capital ; then 
Vitellius had recourse to the sword which had before brought him 
victory ; but instead of it he found only an old and useless 

Now all his courage forsook him ; he wished to escape, and 
crept away to bury himself in a corner of the palace. The populace 
tore him from his hiding-place, dragged him through the streets, 
and when he reached the foot of the Capitol, the German soldier 
stabbed him to death with the sword of Cheru or of the divine 
Caesar. In this manner was the prophecy of the wise woman 
fulfilled : "to his own hurt." 

Afterwards the German soldier left Rome and went to Pannonia, 
where he re-entered the Roman service. He fought in many 
battles and was victorious in all, and soon became so famous that 
he was made centurion, and then tribune. When he grew old 
and was incapable of further service, he made a hole on the bank 
of the Danube, hid the good sword in it, and covered it up again 
with earth. Then he built himself a hut and lived there until his 
end. On his death-bed, he told the neighbours who had assembled 
round him, of his battles, and how he had got possession of the 
sword of Cheru ; but he did not betray the place where he had 
hidden it, yet the saying that whoever should find the sword 
would become ruler of the world, remained current among the 
people from generation to generation. 

Centuries came and went. The storm of the migration of races 
swept over the Roman empire; the Germanic races shared the 
spoil amongst them ; the nomads of Asia, the wild Huns, made 


their way over from the East, Hke the waves of a sea, in order to 
have a share in the booty. Attila, or Etzel, raised his blood- 
besprinkled banner in the desire for land and military fame, but 
his efforts were fruitless for a long time. 

As Attila was once riding with his troopers along the banks of 
the Danube, he busied himself with framing in his own mind 
gigantic plans of gaining for himself the empire of the world. He 
happened to look up and saw a peasant driving a lame cow and 
carrying a beautifully made sword under his arm. On being 
questioned, the man replied that his cow had hurt her foot against 
something sharp that was hidden in the grass, and that when he 
sought for the cause of the injury he found and dug up the sword. 

The king desired that the sword should be brought to him, and 
drew it out of its sheath with joyful emotion ; its bright blade 
shone fieiy red in the evening light and all present stared at it in 

But Attila, holding up the shining weapon in his strong hand, 
exclaimed ; 

" It is the sword of the war-god with which I shall conquer the 

Having said this, he galloped away to the camp, and soon after- 
wards marched on to battles and victory. Whenever he drew the 
sword of the war-god the earth trembled from the east to the very 

After his last campaign in Italy he married the beautiful Ildiko, 
daughter of the King of Burgundy whom he had slain. The 
youthful bride adorned herself unwillingly for the wedding she 

An old woman came to her secretly, and gave her the sword 
with which to revenge her father's death. 

At length the king entered the bridal chamber in a state of in- 
toxication and threw himself upon his couch. Ildiko now drew 

j6(' asgard and the gods. 

the weapon from under her dress and stabbed him to the heart 
with its sharp blade. 

The rule of the Huns came to an end with the death of Attila, 
and the Germanic races chased these hordes back to the steppes 
whence they came ; but tradition does not inform us whether these 
later deeds of war were done with the help of the miraculous 
sword. Yet it tells us of many strange things performed by 
means of it in the middle ages, and of how Duke Alba buried it 
in the earth after the battle of Miihlberg. 


Once upon a time, when there was peace in the worlds, Riger 
arose and set out to visit his children of men, to see how they 
lived and what they did. 

He walked along the green road, and arrived at last at a badly 
built house with a low roof. On the wooden bench beside the 
hearth were seated a man and his wife. 

Ai and Edda (great-grandfather and great-grandmother) were 
their names, and they were very poorly clad. Riger addressed 
them kindly, seated himself between them, and ate with them of 
their coarse bran cakes, and their porridge in earthenware dishes. 

The Ase remained in the cottage for three days and three nights, 
giving good counsel to them, and then went on from the sea-sand 
to the better ground for cultivation. 

Nine moons after his departure a little boy was born to Ai and 
Edda, whose skin was of a dark colour and whose forehead was 
low. His parents called the lad Thrall. He grew and flou- 
rished, and soon learnt to use his strength. He tied up bundles 
with his muscular arms, and carried heavy weights upon his back 
all day long. 

When he had grown to man's estate, he married a girl with black 


feet and sunburnt hands, called Thyr, who worked with the great- 
est diligence. From them are descended the race of Thralls. 

Meanwhile Riger pursued his journey. He came to a roomy, 
well-built house in the middle of a cultivated field. There he 
found Afi and Amma (grandfather and grandmother) neatly 
dressed and working busily. The husband was making a loom, 
and the wife was spinning snowy linen thread on her wheel. A 
pot of good food was bubbling on the fire. Amma soon filled the 
plates, and at the same time gave her guest a cup of foaming beer 
as was the custom of the free-born farmer. Riger gave them much 
good advice regarding the management of house and land ; and 
after remaining with them for three days and three nights, he set 
out again along the road which ran through shady groves and 
across green meadows. 

Nine moons passed, and then came a happy time, for a little 
boy was born to the great delight of his parents. He was called 
Karl (lad), and grew and flourished ; rosy were his cheeks, and 
bright and clear his eyes. 

The boy soon learnt to drive the plough, to yoke the oxen and 
make carts in the same way as his father. In course of time he 
married Snor (cord), who was rich in keys and wore finely-woven 
dresses ; and he brought her home to his new house. Sons and 
daughters were born of this marriage ; all grew up active, merry, 
and free, and dwelt upon their own land. 

Meanwhile Riger walked on through beautiful fields and bloom- 
ing gardens up to the manor house on the top of a sloping hill. 
The door with its shining handle was not locked, so he entered the 
richly furnished hall. The floors were carpeted, and the father and 
mother were sitting on cushions, dressed in silken garments and 
playing with delicate toys. 

Then the master of the house tried his bow, made arrows and 
whetted his sword, while his wife came out to watch him in a blue 


dress with a long train, and with a kerchief crossed over her white 
neck and shoulders. 

Riger seated himself between them. He knew how to advise 
them for the glory and weal of their house. 

Afterwards the lady spread the table with a beflowered linen 
cloth ; she brought in well-cooked dishes of game and poultry, 
and filled the golden beakers and jugs with sparkling wine. They 
drank and talked till night-fall, and then Riger was shown his 
comfortable bed. 

He remained with his hosts for three days and three nights, and 
then went away to continue his journey. 

Nine moons passed, and a son was born in the manor house, 
fair-haired, with beautiful rosy cheeks and eyes like shining stars. 

He was called Jarl ; he grew and flourished, learnt to draw the 
sword, to throw the spear, to bend the bow, to carry the shield, to 
ride the horse, and to swim across the Sound. The boy learnt 
even more than this as he grew older, for Riger came to him out of 
the dark grove, and taught him to understand the runes, inspiring 
him at the same time to do deeds which should bring him and his 
house honour and glory. 

Then Jarl went out to battle, conquered the enemy, and won for 
himself renown and booty, castles and land, rewarding his com- 
panions in arms generously with golden clasps and rings. 

He became a great ruler, but still he felt sad and lonely in his 
luxurious hall. So he sent messengers to ask for the hand of Lady 
Erna, the slender-waisted. His offer was accepted, and the noble 
maiden entered his shining halls where the Earl received her with 
joy. They grew to love each other and lived together to a good 
old age. 

Sons and daughters came of this marriage, and increased the 
number of the Jarls. The youngest son, Konur, understood the 
runes, both of the present and the future, and also the language 


of birds. Besides this, he was a mighty wan-ior, and afterwards 
became the first King of Denmark. This is what the " Rigsmal," 
a poem of the Edda, teaches us of the beginning of class dis- 

When Riger (or Heimdal) had finished his labours he mounted 
his horse, Gulltop (golden-mane), and rode home to Himinbiorg 
to fulfil his duty as watchman. 

He drank sweet mead late each night, for all things in Asgard 
and without it were sunk in sleep. At midnight he once heard a 
noise of footsteps, but so faint was the sound that no ear but his 
could have heard it. It came from Folkwang, where Freya, the 
goddess of love and beauty, dwelt. 

Heimdal cast a penetrating glance in the direction whence the 
sound came, and saw the sleeping goddess resting upon her couch. 
She was lying on her side, one arm resting upon her shining neck- 
lace, Brisingamen. Loki was standing beside her bed gazing 
covetously at the ornament. He seemed in doubt as to how he 
could get possession of it. He murmured magic spells, and lo ! 
he grew visibly smaller and smaller. At last he became a tiny 
little creature, with bristles and a sharp set of teeth, a creature that 
thirsts for blood and attacks both gods and men ; in the form of 
a flea he jumped upon the bed, and slipped beneath the sheets ; he 
stung the sleeping goddess in the side so that she turned. The 
necklace was now free, and the cunning Ase, regaining his natural 
form, untied the ribbon that fastened it round her neck, and made 
off with it. 

The faithful watchman on the heavenly tower was very wroth 
with the night-thief He drew his sharp sword, and, as he had his 
seven-league boots on, came up with him in a few strides. He 
struck out at the robber, but his sword only went through a pillar 
of fire that towered up into the sky in which Loki's form had dis- 


In a moment Heimdal rose in the shape of a cloud, from which 
such a torrent of rain descended that it threatened to extinguish 
the fire. 

Loki immediately changed himself into a polar bear, that 
opened its mouth and drank up the rain. Before he could escape 
he was attacked by Heimdal as a still larger bear. 

Loki fled from the deadly embrace in the form of a seal, but 
his flight was useless, for he was caught by another larger seal. 

The two creatures fought furiously ; they bit and scratched each 
other till the waters were stained with their blood. After a long 
and fierce struggle, Heimdal was victorious, and Loki slipped out 
of his torn and mangled seal's skin ; but when Heimdal whirled 
his sword round his head, he begged for mercy and gave up the 
necklace to his opponent. 

Heimdal stood leaning on his sword and holding Brisingamen in 
his left hand, rejoicing in his victory in spite of the pain his 
wounds caused him. But Iduna, Bragi's lovely wife, came to him 
and gave him an apple of eternal youth. As soon as he had 
tasted it, his wounds were healed and he ceased to suffer pain. 
He bade the goddess take the necklace back to Freya. 

Then he returned to Himinbiorg, mounted his good horse 
GuUtop and rode down Iring's road, which men now call the 
Milky Way; immediately the black storm-clouds vanished and 
the shining stars lighted up the expanse of heaven in the same 
way that Brisingamen did Asgard's halls, until day came and 
called up gods and men to their work. For Heimdal is the same 
as Heimdellinger for Heimdaglinger, he who brought day to the 
home of the world. His name Riger shows that he was also 
related to the German Erich, Erk, Heru or Cheru, the sword-god, 
and consequently to Tyr or Zio. The Edda calls him the Sword- 
Ase, and makes him wander on the green ways of earth, as Iring 
did on the Milky Way, which was called after him. Certain roads 


bore the same name, such as those which ran through England 
from south to north, and the Irmin-streets in Germany that led 
to and from the Irmin-columns ; thus Riger resembled the 
universal god, the giver of victory. 

Riger's wanderings reminds us of Orwandil, whom Thor carried 
through the ice-streams Eliwagar. He was identical with the 
mythical hero Orendel, a son of King Eigel of Treves, whose 
travels and adventures on every sea have much resemblance to 
those of Odysseus. It is very doubtful whether these stories were 
known to the Teutons at the time of Tacitus, as this author 
mentions that the Hellenic hero had been in Germany, and had 
founded the town of Asciburgum (Ase-burg). It was rather to 
the poets of the middle ages that dark rumours of the Odyssee 

Heimdal was born of nine mothers (the wave-maidens), whose 
names are taken from waves and cliffs ; he was nursed and 
strengthened by Mother Earth, the cold sea and the rays of the 
sun ; hence he appears as a god of heaven, raised aloft by the 
waves of the sea, which afterwards fall to the earth as fruitful rain 
or dew. This was his position in the natural myth. The skalds 
made him out to be the watchman of Asgard, to whom was 
entrusted the care of Bifrost, the rainbow-bridge, that all attacks 
of the giants might be prevented. 


'' ^ T^ ^:X, C , Or, 



In the beginning the silence of death rested upon the immeasur- 
able ocean, not a breath of wind stirred the air, not a wave rose on 
the surface of the deep ; everything was motionless, dumb, with- 
out breath or life. 

A vessel, the ship of the Dwarfs, crossed the silent waste of 
water. Bragi, the divine singer, was lying on the deck asleep, 
sunk in the dream of life ; he was without spot or blemish, and 
his golden-stringed harp lay at his side. When the vessel glided 
over the threshold of Nain, the Dwarf of Death, the god awoke, 
touched the strings of his harp and sang a song that echoed 
throughout the nine worlds, describing the rapture of existence, 


the rage of battle and the charm of victory, and the joy and 
happiness of love. This song wakened dumb nature out of her 

Whether the god of poetry were the son of Odin or not, we 
cannot tell ; the skalds do not inform us. But' poetry cannot die, 
it always rises out of death to a new life and rejoices the hearts of 
both gods and men. 

Bragi landed on the shore, singing his noble song about the 
awakenin g of nature and the blossoming of new life; and he 
wandered through the growing, budding woods as he sang. Then 
Iduna rose before him from amongst the grasses, flowers and 
foliage, the goddess of immortal youth, the youngest daughter of 
Iwaldi, the Dwarf, who hid life in the deep and afterwards sent it 
again to the upper world when the right time had come. 

Iduna was beautiful in her crown of flowers and leaves ; she was 
beautiful as the dawn. When the god saw her, his song of love 
became more glowing and intense. He stretched out his arms 
and she sank upon his breast, for the poet must needs marry youth 
and beauty. 

After they were united, they went to the blessed ever-green 
heights of Asgard, where the Ases received them with joy. Then 
Iduna gave thetn to eat of the apple of ever-renewed youth. 

When the gods and Einheriar had eaten their fill of the flesh of 
Sahrimnir, Bragi touched the strings of his harp and sang the 
praises of the heroes. But this pleasant life in Asgard, and the 
married happiness of the divine poet, were once broken by a severe 
trial, as we shall presently see. 

Odin, Honir and Loki were travelling about the world together 
to see what were the joys and sorrows, works and labours of 
the dwellers upon earth. They went a long way, and at length 
came to a densely wooded mountain where there was nothing 
to eat. They could find no hospitable house in which to take 


shelter; could hear no friendly voice calling to them. The 
autumn wind was blowing the tops of the oaks and firs. 

When they reached the valley, they saw a herd of cattle grazing 
in the meadow. They caught one of the animals and slaughtered 
it ; they cut it up and prepared to cook it for their supper. The 
fire, kindled by Loki, blazed up, and they thought the beef would 
soon be cooked. But when they looked to see, it was still quite 
raw. This happened a second and a third time ; the Ases were 
astonished and wondered what to do. 

Suddenly they heard a voice above them saying that he who 
prevented the beef from cooking was sitting above them in a 
branch of the tree. On looking up they saw a gigantic eagle 
through the leaves of the oak, busily engaged in trying to put out 
the fire by flapping his wings. He promised to allow them to 
cook their supper if they would give him some of it. When they 
had agreed to do so, he flew down, fanned the fire, and very soon 
supper was ready. 

They all sat down together, but the eagle ate so quickly that it 
seemed as though he would devour the whole bullock. Loki was 
dreadfully hungry, and getting into a rage, snatched up a stake 
and stabbed at the gigantic bird with it. The eagle flew up into 
the air when he felt the blow. The stake had fastened itself to 
the feathers of the bird and Loki's hands were glued to the other 


The eagle flew so low that Loki's feet dragged along the ground 
and hit against any stones and stumps that might be in the way, 
while his arms felt as if they were dislocated. He shrieked and 
groaned and begged for mercy of the Storm-giant, who, as he 
well knew, was hidden under the eagle's dress. 

" Very well," said the giant, " I will set thee free if thou wilt 
promise to bring me Iduna and her golden apples." 

Loki swore to do so, and, as soon as he was set free, limped 


back to his companions. Under the circumstances the travellers 
determined to go home, and they must have been provided with 
seven-league boots, for they arrived at Asgard on the following 

Beautiful Iduna was going about her household duties, dressed 
in green and wearing a garland of leaves, the crown of unfading 
youth. Bragi was away from home journeying as a minstrel. 
She collected her apples, which she usually gave the Ases at 
breakfast time. 

At this moment Loki came up to her quickly, and looking 
round to see that no one was near, whispered : . 

" Gentle and lovely goddess, follow me quickly out of the castle 
gate, for I have discovered a strange tree covered with golden 
fruit like thine." 

This was a request the goddess could not decline. She put 
some of her apples in a crystal dish and followed the traitor 
through Asgard, and on into the dark wood. 

All at once the Storm- wind roared through the trees ; and 
Thiassi, the giant in the eagle's dress, rushed up, caught the 
terrified goddess in his talons, and flew with her to dreary wintry 
Thrymheim, where spring flowers cannot bloom, not yet can youth 

Loki slunk back to Asgard, and quietly kept his secret about 
Iduna to himself. " The longer hence they notice it, the better," 
he cunningly thought to himself. 

The Ases for a long time did not know that Iduna had been 
stolen ; they thought she had gone away on a journey. But when 
days and weeks had passed their hair began to turn grey, the 
colour left their cheeks and their faces showed the folds and 
wrinkles of age. The goddesses, even Freya herself, discovered 
signs of approaching old age, when they looked at their faces in 
the mirror of a clear stream. 


They all asked for Iduna and sought her high and low. The 
last time she was seen, she was walking with Loki. The cunning 
Ase was questioned ; his lies did not help him ; Thor threatened to 
break all his limbs, and raised his hammer for the purpose : then 
Loki confessed, and promised to bring back the giver of youth, 
if Freya would lend him her falcon-dress. 

The request was granted, and he flew away at once to Thrym- 
heim, the dwelling of the Storm-giant Thiassi. 

The giant was at sea, and Iduna was sitting lonely and sad in 
an uncomfortable room, made of roughly hewn logs. Loki told 
her to be of good courage and changed her into a nut. 

Then he flew over rocks and chasms with his light burden 
towards Asenheim. 

Meanwhile the giant came home from his sea voyage. He had 
always hitherto begged his prisoner in vain to give him a slice of 
the apple of youth, that his horrible deformity might be trans- 
formed into the beauty of youth. As soon as he discovered 
Iduna's flight, he put on his eagle's dress and rushed after the 
fugitives with the speed of the storm. 

The Ases watched the wild chase anxiously. They collected 
shavings and bits of wood before the fortress, and when the falcon 
had reached the shelter of the wall with his charge, they set fire 
to the wood, and the flames towered up into the air, singeing the 
wings of the pursuing eagle and bringing him to the ground. 

Thiassi was then slain, but Thor threw his eyes up into the 
heavens where they shone henceforth as stars every night. 

On his return, Bragi found his wife at home and heard from 
her all that had happened. He saw how Skadi, daughter of the 
Storm-giant, appeared in helmet and chain armour to avenge her 
father's death. And he afterwards told the whole story, ending 
with how Ogir, the god of the sea, had made expiation to the war- 
like maiden. 


It is interesting to see how the genius of Odin's skalds united 
the god of poetry in marriage with the goddess of spring, the 
giver of renewed youth, and interwove the changes of the seasons 
into the myth. Bragi, who came out of the unknown distance, 
awoke mental life and also nature out of their trances ; Iduna, 
who brought spring and youth into the world, became his wife. 
She gave the Ases the golden fruit of renewed youth, a fruit which 
was perhaps identical with the golden fruit that the Grecian hero 
Herakles carried away from the Hesperides. 

In the same way as the autumn winds tear the leaves from the 
trees, the Storm-giant stole Iduna, and as the green meadows are 
covered with ice and snow in winter, so Iduna had to spend some 
time in the giant's uncomfortable house, while the gods themselves 
grew old and their hair turned grey. 

Then Loki, probably the south wind, had to go and set Iduna 
free. The Storm-giant had gone on a voyage to the north, where 
his power lasted until the coming of spring. So the imprisoned 
spring was delivered from its bonds, and when the giant made his 
way into Asgard he was slain ; i.e., the storms of winter were con- 
fined within certain bounds. 


Uller appears in the Edda as the cheery and sturdy god of 
winter, who, caring nothing for wind or snowstorm, used to go out 
on long journeys on his skates or snow-shoes. 

Whenever he reached a lake or fiord which was not frozen, he 
transformed his shoes into a boat, and, making the winds and waves 
obey him, passed over to the other side. 

Snow-shoes, as they are still worn in Norway and Iceland, are 
light shoes, very large and shaped like a boat turning up at the 
ends. With their help it is easy to slide quickly down hill, and 



they may have been the shoes alluded to in the stories of Uller ; 
still, skates were also used at that time to glide over the frozen 
lakes. These shoes were also compared with a shield ; thus the 
shield is called Uller's ship in several places. 

When the god skated over the ice, he always carried with him 
his shield, deadly arrows, and bow made of the yew-tree. The 
pliable wood of the yew was the most suitable for making bows 
for use either in hunting or in war. Uller, therefore, lived in the 
palace Ydalir, the yew-vale. 

As he protected plants and seeds from the severe attacks of the 
frosts of the north by covering the ground with a coating of snow, 
he was regarded as the benefactor of mortal men, and was called 
the friend of Baldur, the giver of every blessing and joy. 

Once when out hunting, Uller saw beautiful Skadi, the bold 
huntress, of whom we shall have more to tell further on. He fell 
in love with her, and as she was by this time separated from her 
first husband, Niorder, she willingly consented to marry him. At 
the wedding the storms all played dance music in every tune, for 
the time when the day and night were of equal length in autumn 
was past, and winter, the happiest time for marriage, had begun. 

Vulder with the Anglo-Saxons meant divine glory, or even God 
himself, and it seems that the Northern god Uller was thus cha- 
racterised in heathen times. This was perhaps a consequence of 
the glory of the Northern winter night, which is often brilliantly 
lighted by the snow, the dazzling ice, and the Aurora borealis, the 
great Northern Light. 



■=— jafE^C^ 















T~\ISUNION had shown itself amongst the gods, as on earth 
-*-^ amongst men, for the sake of power and gold. The Wanes 
came up against Asgard in numbers like the stars of heaven, and 
crowded over the broken wall into the holy precincts. 

The Ases had no Einheriar to help them as yet, for this was the 
first war which was to decide the government of the world. Spears 
hurtled through the air, swords rattled against helmets and coats- 
of-mail. The fallen warriors felt the pang of their wounds, but not 
the agony of death, for the wounds soon closed again, and they 
stood up anew to do battle with the foe. 

Weapons did not suffice ; the warriors broke off pieces of rock 
and the tops of mountains, tore pines and oaks up by their roots 
and flung them at each other. Thunder rolled ; the sun hid its 
face ; universal destruction threatened to overwhelm the world, and 
the Jotuns looked on at the battle with delight, holding themselves 
ready to fall upon both victor and vanquished, and complete the 
work of destruction. 

Then Allfather appeared, mighty and glorious, wearing his 
golden helmet, and swinging the spear of death, and commanded 
that there should be a truce. 


The fiery warriors obeyed his behest ; they bowed their stubborn 
heads, and lowered their uplifted weapons, as they listened to the 
words of the King : " Let there be peace henceforth in heaven and 
upon earth, and let a treaty be made between the divine Powers, 
that neither may in future interfere with the province of the other, 
but that each race of gods may do its utmost for the weal and 
happiness of mortal men, who offer sacrifices and gifts as be- 
seems them." 

In this way a Milton would probably have described the con- 
clusion of the battle of the gods ; but the Edda, in addition to 
this, relates how the Ases and Wanes each gave hostages to the 
other in token of good faith. 

Honir, Odin's brother, who had in the olden time given man 
mind and senses, was sent to the Wanes, who in their turn made 
over to the Ases Niorder, the unspotted Prince of men, with his 
children Freyer and Freya, who were held in equal reverence with 

The wise Mimir accompanied Honir to Wanaheim. But the 
Wanes slew him and sent his head to the Ases. Odin, however, 
restored it to life with his magic runes, that it might always confer 
with him about the Past and the riddles of the Future, as in the 
old time when after pledging his eye to Mimir he was permitted to 
drink of the fountain of wisdom. He did not return evil with evil, 
but included Niorder and his children amongst the ranks of the 
Ases, so that they lived in honour whilst the rest of their race were 
almost entirely forgotten. 

The Wanes, of whose worship but few and uncertain traces 
remain in German traditions, are suppose d to have been the gods_ 
o f feeling and of th e senses. Professor Simrock has shown that 
very probably that they were not essentially different from the 
Ases, but that they were worshipped by other tribes than the Ases, 
presumably by those of the Suevi, who were dwellers by the sea, 


for the Aestyer and especially the Suiones, Suevian tribes, prin- 
cipally adored Freyer, Freya, and Niorder. It is also supposed 
that they may have been the gods of tribes which had been forced 
back and partially subjected to the conqueror, who at length threw 
off the yoke of the victor and in renewed battle broke down part 
of the fortifications of Asgard, but afterwards came to reasonable 
terms with the enemy. This uncertain hypothesis would quite, 
explain the war with the Wanes, and show it to have been a war of 

Some writers explain the Wanes to have been the priestly class 
and the war to have been a struggle between ecclesiastical and 
temporal power, such as raged between Pope and Kaiser all through 
the middle ages, and which is perhaps not even yet at an end. 
This cannot be called an altogether unjustifiable hypothesis, for 
in the Edda we find many references to the wise Wanes, and wis- 
dom could not well be an attribute of the gods of sensuous impulse, 
whilst it might quite easily be found amongst the priests. So much 
only is certain, however, that with the exception of the three 
Wanes received into Asenheim, no other gods of that race take 
part in any of the mythical occurrences. It was not supposed that 
Wanaheim would disappear in the universal destruction of nature; 
for when the world was to be renewed, Honir would be allowed 
to choose whether he would enter the blessed Gimil, or remain 
in Wanaheim. 


The Prince of men, as Niorder was called, was, according to tradi- 
tion, tall and stately and of matchless beauty. He w as as famous 
for his wisdom and goodness as for his wealth. Therefore he 
listened to those who prayed him to bless their labours, especially 
attending to those who were engaged in seafaring and mercantile 


He lived at Noatun (seaport), where he delighted to hear the 
dash of the waves and the song of swans. The swan, which only 
sings when it is dying, was looked upon as the bird of the Under- 
world divinities. Hence Niorder seems to have had some connec- 
tion with them. Moreover, he was regarded as the ruler of the 
calm, peaceful ocean. When wild Ogir excited the sea to rise 
foaming and dashing against the ships, threatening to engulf them, 
Niorder calmed its fury with magic spells, and sent a favourable 
wind to the assistance of the mariners. He did not wear Ogir's 
helmet, of which all living creatures were afraid, but a hat trimmed 
with shells, above which waved a heron's plume. A sea-green tunic 
clothed his slender figure, leaving the lower part of his well-formed 
legs uncovered. To this circumstance he owed his marriage to 
his second wife, beautiful Skadi. His residence in Asenheim hkd 
separated him from his first wife Nerthus, Mother Earth, who was 
also his sister, and he therefore lived unmarried in remote Noatun, 
until he was wed to Skadi. 

Then, as we have already told, gentle Iduna was stolen away, 
was set free by Loki, and the storm-giant Thiassi was slain by the 

After this, Skadi, the giant's warlike daughter, armed herself in 
her native Thrymheim with helmet and chain-mail, with spear and 
deadly arrows, and appeared before Asgard demanding vengeance. 
She looked gloriously beautiful in her shining armour, and the 
Ases did not wish to fight with the noble maiden, whose wrath 
seemed just in their eyes. They offered her expiation for her 
father's death, but she would not listen to their friendly words ; 
she raised her spear to hurl it at one of those who had been accom- 
plice in his death. 

Then cunning Loki came forward, bowed low before her, and 
sprang now to the right hand, now to the left, and then danced 
backwards and forwards, while a long-horned, long-bearded goat 


made the same movements behind him, for he had fastened the 
creature to himself with an invisible cord. When at length he 
threw himself on his knees before her like a lover, and the goat, 
bleating mournfully, followed his example, Skadi burst into a fit 
of laughter. Her anger passed away, and she allowed herself to 
listen to terms. 

Meanwhile it had grown dark, and Odin said, as he pointed to 
the sky, — 

" Look, there are thy father's eyes which I have placed in the 
firmament of heaven that they may henceforth look down upon 
thee as stars. As for thee, thou shalt become one of us, and shalt 
choose thyself a husband from amongst us, but thine eyes must be 
so covered with a veil that thou mayest only see the feet of the 
assembled gods." 

She gazed about her in astonishment, and as she did so, her eyes 
fell upon Baldur, who stood before her in his divine beauty, for he 
shone amongst the Ases like the morning star amongst the paling 
stars of night. She hoped to recognise him even if she only saw 
the hem of his garment. Her eyes were then partially bandaged, 
and the gods formed a circle round her. She looked around her 
on the ground, and perceived amongst them a foot of remarkable 

" I choose thee," she said, " thou art Baldur." 

She tore ,the bandage from her eyes, and — it was not Baldur, 
it was Niorder whom she had chosen ; and he was slender, stately, 
gentle and pleasant to look upon. 

The word was spoken ; the choice was made ; the marriage was 
solemnized with much pomp. The great huntress found her life 
with her husband in heavenly Asgard a very happy one. The 
golden wood Glasir was full of melody as she walked through it ; 
the Einheriar rose from their seats when she entered Walhalla ; 
the goddesses gave her ornaments to wear, and the Ases delighted 


in doing her honour. Thus the honeymoon passed, and then she 
followed her husband to Noatun, his castle by the sea. 

She liked the life she led there at first, but soon she began to 
long for her native Thrymheim, for the sounds of the forests, in 
which she had been accustomed to hunt, and the frozen meres on 
which she used to skate. 

She hated to hear the beat of the waves upon the shore, the 
groans and barking of the seals, and to see the fish leap ; while 
the hoarse cries of the gulls often wakened her out of her sleep. 
She could bear it no longer, and told her husband she must either 
go back to Thrymheim or she must die. 

Niorder listened to her kindly, and proposed that he should 
spend nine nights with her at Thrymheim, and that she should 
then live three nights with him at Noatun, and so on until Rag- 
narok should come. She gladly consented, and this plan of life was 
kept up for some time to the satisfaction of both. 

But in course of time Niorder himself grew weary of Thrym- 
heim. The howling of the wolves, the bellowing of the buffaloes, 
and the growling of the bears were as hateful to him as the noises 
of the sea-side were to his wife. They therefore had themselves 
set free from the marriage tie, and each dwelt in his and her own 

Niorder was patron of the fisheries, and also of ships and trade. 
Skadi continued to hunt as before, and ruled with her bow and 
arrows over the beasts and birds that lived in the forest. Some 
time after her separation from Niorder, she married wintry Uller, 
who was much better suited to her in character. 

Simrock rightly maintains with regard to the origin and inter- 
pretation of this myth, that Niorder was a beneficent summer god, 
who helped the harvest to ripen, and was the giver of material 
well-being, who taught men how to cultivate the vine and other 
kinds of husbandry. He was perhaps the masculine counterpart 


of the Earth-goddess Nerthus, who, probably, was both his wife and 
his sister in Wanaland. As he was also interested in commercial 
undertakings and voyages, the Edda shows him to have been 
essentially the ruler of the sea and peace-maker with the storms. 
Skadi, too, was connected with the Earth-goddess, but only in her 
wintry dress. 

Winter, regarded in its pleasantest aspect, gained a form and 
personality in the consciousness of the people ; and so beautiful 
Skadi appeared in the songs of the skalds. This myth is a crea- 
tion of Norse genius, not of that of any particular poets. It 
proves that in these poems, the Giants, Ases and Wanes were not 
inimical Powers diametrically opposed to one another, but that 
they could at one time live on friendly and intimate terms to- 


The Edda informs us that Freyer was the son of Niorder. He 
and his sister Freya left Wanaland with their father, and were 
received amongst the number of the Ases. 

It appears, however, that he was known in still older times than 
that, having been held in great reverence as the sun-god by the 
Scandinavians, and probably by the Southern Germans also ; as 
such he made the fields fruitful, blessed households and marriage 
and family life. 

We learn in the Edda, as has been already related, that imme- 
diately before the wager between Loki and the dwarf Brock, Freyer 
received the ship Skidbladnir, which could sail in any wished-for 
direction, and which, when no longer wanted, could be folded up 
and put in the pocket. And then he was given the boar Gullin- 
bursti, one of the three works of art made by Sindri, brother of 
Brock ; this boar drew the god's chariot, and was at times ridden 


by him ; it would bear him through woods and over meadows, its 
golden bristles rendering the darkest night as light as day. 

In the ship we recognise the clouds, which always have a favour- 
able wind when they scurry across the sky, and in the boar we see 
the sun's golden light. Blodhughofi, a horse swift as the wind, was 
at his command whenever he rode to join the council of the Ases. 

Yule-tide, which was sacred to this god, takes its name from the 
wheel of the sun, for jul or ^iuH, means wheel (hveohl). This fes- 
tival, for which the sun-god awakes and lights up his wheel once 
more, was kept by all the Teutonic races. The special dish that 
appeared at these feasts was a boar's head, such as is still seen on 
the dinner tables at Christmas time in the University of Oxford. 

To Freyer was awarded the Home of the Light-Elves by the 
gods as a fit gift on his cutting his first tooth, for the god of sun- 
shine and fruitful harvests must necessarily rule over the kingdom 
of the Light-Elves. 

According to one legend, Freyer once took a human form, and 
ruled over Sweden under the name of Fiolnir. At the invitation 
of King Frodi, he went to Hledra (Zealand), to take part in a great 
feast prepared in his honour. When there, he fell into an enormous 
butt of mead, and was drowned, in like manner as the sun-god 
sinks every evening into the rosy waves of the sea. 

He appeared amongst the Danes as Fridleif (peace-giver), the son 
or grandson of Hadding, and governed the people with a strong 
hand. In vain he sent messengers to ask for the hand of fair 
Freygerda, King Amund's daughter. As Amund received his 
ofifer with scorn, Fridleif organized an expedition to force him 
to consent to the marriage. 

One evening as the lover sat thinking beside a pond in a wood, 

he heard the swans singing to the murmuring waters : 

" Heartless the robber has stolen thy lover ; 
Tarry not, hasten the giant to slay, 


Lurking in caverns his treasure to cover ; 
Gerda is mourning thy weary delay." 

Scarcely was the song ended, when Fridleif perceived a giant 
taller than the highest tree preparing to throw his stone club at him. 

The battle immediately began ; and Fridleif first hewed off 
one of the monster's legs, and then, when he had fallen to the 
ground, his three heads. 

The victor found Freygerda and a great treasure of gold hidden 
away in the cave the Jotun had inhabited. 

Soon afterwards Fridleif married the princess, and on his way 
home the hero succeeded in killing a terrible dragon, in whose 
cavern he discovered a still greater hoard of gold. 

A son was born of this marriage named Frodi. He succeeded 
his father on the Danish throne, and bestowed blessings upon his 
people, such as only a god can give to mortal man. 

So great was the public safety in his reign that the king had 
golden chains and jewels kept day and night in the open air, 
and no one dared to touch them. The traveller then always 
found a hearty welcome throughout the kingdom, for there was 
no lack of food in the country : the fields bore double harvests, 
and the king was ever willing to relieve want wherever his help 
was needed. This peaceful state was accounted by all as the 
greatest of blessings, and in honour of Frodi was ever afterwards 
called the Peace of Frodi. The king felt very happy, whether 
drinking sweet mead upon his high throne in the hall of his fathers, 
or making inroads upon the neighbouring tribes, followed by his 

* Among his treasures were two quern stones ; nothing much 
to look at, simply two common mill stones in appearance, and no 

* The following legend is quoted from the charming book, entitled, " Won- 
derful Stories from Northern Lands," by Julia Goddard (London : Longmans, 


one who did not know what they could do would think of taking 
any notice of them. Nevertheless, these quern stones were of 
more worth than anything that King Frodi had, for they could 
produce anything that the grinder of the quern or hand mill wished 
for. They would bring gold, silver, precious stones, anything and 
everything ; and besides this they could grind love, joy, peace ; 
therefore it is not too much to say that these stones were worth 
more than all the treasures of the king put together. 

At least they would have been if he could have made use of 
them, but they were so heavy that few could be found to turn the 
quern, and just at the time of which I am speaking there was no one 
at all in the land of Gotland able to work away at the quern handle. 

Now the more King Frodi pondered over his wonderful quern 
stones, the greater became his desire to use them, and he sought 
throughout the land from north to south, from east to west, if 
perchance he might find some one strong enough to help him in 
his need. But all to no purpose, and he was utterly in despair 
when, by good luck, he happened to go on a visit to the King 
of Sweden, and to hear of two slave-women of great size and 
strength. "Surely," thought Frodi, "these are just the women 
to grind at my quern Grotti " (for so it was called), and he asked 
the king to be allowed to see them. 

So the king ordered the slaves to be brought before Frodi, and 
when Frodi saw them his spirits rose, for certainly Menia and 
Fenia were strong-looking women. They were eight feet in 
height, and broader across the shoulders than any of Frodi's 
warriors, and the muscles of their arms stood out like cords. And 
they lifted heavy weights, threw heavy javelins, and did so many 
feats of strength that Frodi felt quite sure that they would be able 
to turn the quern handle. 

" I will buy these slaves," said he, " and take them with me to 


Menia and Fenia stood with their arms folded and their 
proud heads bowed down, whilst Frodi counted out the gold 
to the seller. They were slaves ; with money had they been 
bought, with money were they sold again. What cared Frodi 
who was their father, or how they had come into the land of 
Sweden ? 

And he took them home with him and bade them grind at the 
quern. Now he should be able to test the power of the wonderful 

" Grind, grind, Menia and Fenia, let me see whether ye have 
strength for the work." 

So spake King Frodi, and the huge women lifted the heavy 
stones as though they had been pebbles. 

" What shall we grind ? " asked the slaves. 

" Gold, gold, peace and wealth for Frodi." 

Gold !■ gold ! the land was filled with riches. Treasure in the 
king's palace, treasure in the coffers of his subjects — gold ! gold ! 
There were no poor in the land, no beggars in the streets, no 
children crying for bread. All honour to the quern stones ! 

Peace ! peace ! no more war in the land, Frodi is at peace with 
every one. And more than that, there was peace in all countries 
where Frodi's name was known, even to the far south ; and everj'- 
one talked of Frodi's Peace. Praise be to the quern stones ! 

Wealth ! yes, everything went well. Not one of the counsels 
of King Frodi failed. There was not a green field that did not 
yield a rich crop ; not a tree but bent beneath its weight of fruit ; 
not a stream that ran dry ; not a vessel that sailed from the 
harbours of Gotland that came not back, after a fair voyage, 
in safety to its haven. There was good luck everywhere. 

" Grind on, grind on, Menia and Fenia ! good fortune is mine," 
said King Frodi. 

And the slaves ground on. 



" When shall we rest, when may we rest, King Frodi ? It is 
weary work toiling day and night." 

" No longer than whilst the cuckoo is silent in the spring." 

" Never ceasing is the cry of the cuckoo in the groves ; may we 
not rest longer .? " 

" Not longer," answered King Frodi, " than whilst the verse of 
a song is sung." 

" That is but little ! " sighed Menia and Fenia, and they toiled 
on. Their arms were weary, and their eyes heavy, they would 
fain have slept ; but Frodi would not let them have any sleep. 
They were but slaves who must obey their master, so they toiled 
on, still grinding peace and wealth to Frodi — 

" To Frodi and his queen 

Joy and peace — 
May plenty in the land 

Still increase, 
Frodi and his queen 

From dangers keep ; 
May they on beds of down 

Sweetly sleep. 
Ko sword be drawn 

In Gotland old, 
By murderer bold. 

No harm befall 
The high or low — 

To none be woe, 
Good luck to all. 

Good luck to all, 
We grind, we grind. 

No rest we find. 
For rest we call." 

Thus sang the two giant \yomen ; then they begged again, 
" Give us rest, O Frodi ! " 

But still Frodi answered, " Rest whilst the verse of a song is 
sung, or as long as the cuckoo is silent in the spring." 


No longer would the king give them. 

Yet Frodi was deemed a good king, but gold and good luck 
were hardening his heart. 

Menia and Fenia went on grinding and their wrath grew 
deeper and deeper, and thus at last they spoke. 

First said Fenia, "Thou wert not wise, O Frodi. Thou didst 
buy us because like giants we towered above the other slaves, 
because we were strong and hardy and could lift heavy burdens." 

And Menia took up the wail : " Are we not of the race of the 
mountain giants } Are not our kindred greater than thine, O 
Frodi } The quern had never left the grey fell but for the giants' 
daughters. Never, never should we have ground as we have done, 
had it not been that we remembered from what race we sprang." 

Then answered Menia : " Nine long winters saw us training to 
feats of strength, nine long winters of wearisome labour. Deep 
down in the earth we toiled and toiled until we could move the 
high mountain from its foundations. We are weird women, O 
Frodi. We can see far into the future. Our eyes have looked 
upon the quern before. In the giants' house we whirled it until 
the earth shook, and hoarse thunder resounded through the 
caverns. Thou art not wise, O Frodi. O Frodi thou art not 
wise ! " 

But Frodi heard them not ; he was sleeping the sweet sleep 
that the queni stones had ground for him. 

" Strong are we indeed," laughed Fenia, sorrowfully, "strong to 
contend with the puny men. We, whose pastime in Sweden was 
to tame the fiercest bears, so that they ate from our hands. We 
who fought with mighty warriors and came off conquerors. We 
who helped one prince and put down another. Well we fought, 
and many were the wounds we received from sharp spears and 
flashing swords. Frodi knows not our power, or he would scarce 
have brought us to his palace to treat us thus Here no one has 


compassion upon us. Cold are the skies above us, and the pitiless 
wind beats upon our breast. Cold is the ground on which we 
stand, and the keen frost bites our feet. Ah, there are none to 
pity us. No one cares for the slaves. We grind for ever an 
enemy's quern, and he gives us no rest. Grind, grind ; I am 
weary of grinding ; I must have rest." 

" Nay," returned Menia, " talk not of rest until Frodi is content 
with what we bring him." 

Then Fenia started : " If he gives us no rest, let us take it 
ourselves. Why should we any longer grind good for him who 
only gives us evil ? We can grind what we please, let us revenge 

Then Menia turned the handle quicker than ever, and in a 
wild voice she sang : 

" I see a ship come sailing 
With warriors bold aboard, 
There's many a one that in Danish blood 
Would be glad to dip his sword. 
Say shall we grmd them hither? 
Say shall they land to-night ? 
Say shall they set the palace a-fire ? 
Say shall they win the fight ? " 

Then called Fenia in a voice of thunder through the midnight 
air : " Frodi, Frodi, awake, awake ! Wilt thou not listen to us 1 
Have mercy and let us rest our weary limbs." 

But all was still, and Frodi gave no answer to the cry. 

" Nay," answered Menia. " He will not hearken. Little he 
cares for the worn-out slaves. Revenge, revenge ! " 

And Frodi slept, not dreaming of the evil that was coming upon 

And again Fenia shouted : " Frodi, Frodi, awake ! The beacon 
is blazing. Danger is nigh. Wilt thou not spare .' " 

But Frodi gave no answer, and the giant women toiled on. 


" O Frodi, Frodi, we cannot bear our weariness." 

And still no answer came. 

" Frodi, Frodi, danger is nigh thee. Well-manned ships are 
gliding over the sea. It is Mysinger who comes, his white sail 
flutters in the wind. His flag is unfurled. Frodi, Frodi, awake, 
awake ! thou shalt be king no longer." 

And as the giant women ground, the words they spake came to 
pass ; they were grinding revenge for themselves, and brought the 
enemy nearer and nearer. 

" Ho ! hearken to the herald ! Frodi, Frodi, the town is on fire. 
The palaces will soon be ruined heaps. Grind, Menia, ever more 
swiftly, until we grind death to Frodi." 

And Menia and Fenia ground and ground till Mysinger and his 
followers landed from the ships. They ground until they had 
reached the palace. 

" To arms, to arms," shouted the warders, but it was too 
late. The Gotlanders armed themselves ; but who could stand 
against the army that the slave women were grinding against 
them .' 

Not long did the struggle last. Frodi and his Gotlanders fought 
bravely, but the sea-king and his allies were mightier, for the 
giantesses were in giant mood, and turned the handle faster and 
faster, until down fell the quern stones. Then sank Frodi pierced 
with wounds, and the fight was over. The army that Menia and 
Fenia had ground to help Mysinger vanished , and Mysinger and 
his men alone were left conquerors on the bloody field. 

They loaded their ships with treasure, and Mysinger took with 
him, Menia, Fenia, and the quern stones. 

But, alas ! Mysinger was no wiser than King Frodi had been. 

Gold, however, was not his first thought ; he had enough of 
that, but he wanted something else that just then was more to him 
than gold. 


There was no salt on board the sea-king's vessels ; so he said, 
" Grind salt." 

And Menia and Fenia ground salt for Mysinger. 

At midnight they asked if they had ground enough. 

And Mysinger bade them grind on. 

And so they ground and ground until the ship was so heavy 
with salt that it sank, and the sea-king and all his men were 

Where the quern stones went down there is to this day a great 
whirlpool, and the waters of the sea have been salt ever since. 





Once when Fiejer, the sum- 
mer god, had tried m vam to 
melt the snow and ice of winter, 
he ascended Hhdskialf to see 
whether he could find out the 
reason why his efforts were useless. 
Ke looked towards the east, the west and the south ; at last he 
turned to the north, and , there he saw a maiden, taller and more 
beautiful than any he had ever before beheld. Her arms shone 
like the radiant beams of the sun, and heaven and earth were 
resplendent with her beaut}^ But the vision did not last long, for 
she opened the door of her dwelling, and soon had disappeared. 


In vain he hoped for her return, but she came not ; her image 
only remained fixed in his soul, filling it with the pangs of hope- 
less love. 

He no more joined the merry feasts in Odin's joyous hall, nor 
did he mingle with the other gods in their familiar talk ; he sought 
solitude, and was ever gloomy and morose. 

His father Niorder grieved to see his son's sad listless manner, 
and wondered what was the cause of it. He entreated Skirnir, 
Freyer's faithful servant, wisely to search out the source of his 
master's gnawing grief. 

So Skirnir went to his lord : " Tell me, O mighty ruler of 
nations, what I fain would know, why thou thus lonesome and full 
of sadness dost ever linger in the spacious hall .' " 

Freyer answered : " Thou art young in years and in experience ; 
how then couldst thou fathom my grief.? The sun shines every 
day on happy people, but his light can bring no joy to the sad at 

Yet Skirnir did not cease in his efforts. He reminded Freyer of 
their happy boyhood, of their merry games, and of the time when 
they had never had a secret from each other. 

Freyer was touched by his devotion and told him of his 
undying love and of its hopelessness. 

" Give me," said Skirnir, " thy good horse to bear me through 
my journey ; give me thy trusty sword that fights of its own 
accord against the Frost-giant's power, and I will woo the maiden 
for thee. I foresee that my mission will be successful." 

Soon afterwards Skirnir leaped into the saddle, the good sword 
at his side. 

"Up," he cried, "haste thee, Red horse, on thy way over the 
steep mountain, for darkness approaches, that time which brings 
help and comfort to the Jotuns. But we shall make our journey 
safely if only we can escape the clutches of the giant." 


The good horse galloped swiftly over hill and dale, as the 
eagle flies over the tops of the tall pines ; and Skirnir soon per- 
ceived the wide demesne of the Frost-giant. 

A high hedge, guarded by fierce dogs, surrounded the bovver of 
the beautiful maiden, and within was a circle of flames that shot 
all round the building. At one side was leaning the herdsman 
who watched over the stately herd of cattle. 

Skirnir turned to him and asked him how he was to pass the 
dogs and the fire, and so reach the hall of the noble maiden. 

" Art thou already dead .' " asked the herdsman ; " or dost thou 
feel death in thy heart ? No living man is permitted to enter the 

" Boldness befits a traveller better than fear. The days of my 
life are all numbered, and no one can shorten them against the 
will of the Norns." 

With these words Skirnir drove his spurs into his horse, which 
thundered over the fierce dogs, the high hedge and the flames, 
making the whole grange tremble to its foundations. 

Gerda was sitting in her hall, and asked her women in startled 
tones why Gymirsgard was quaking so strangely. 

One of her maidens informed her that a man, who had just 
ridden up to the door, demanded admittance. 

Gerda bade her bring the man into her presence, and ordered 
that sweet mead should be given her guest, although she had a 
foreboding that he brought unwelcome tidings, or was perhaps the 
murderer of her brother Beli. 

When the stranger had drunk of the mead offered him, she 
asked, — 

" Art thou an Elf, or an Ase, or one of the wise Wanes, that 
thou, mad rider that thou art, hast dared to force thy way through 
Wafurlogi and thus enter our halls .?" 

" I am no Elf, nor yet am I an Ase, nor do I belong to the race 


of wise Wanes," replied the stranger. " I bring thee eleven apples 
of pure gold as a bridal gift, in order that thou mayst own that 
there is none so dear to thee as Freyer, who yearns for thy love 
in return." 

But she answered : " I will not take thy golden apples, nor shall 
bonds of union ever link my fate to that of thy master, Freyer. 

"Then I will add the golden ring that the Dwarfs made," he 
continued ; " that ring from which eight new ones drop each ninth 

"Gymir's daughter needs no golden rings," she replied; "her 
father's treasures are enough for her." 

" Look, proud maiden," he cried in anger, " look at the shining 
sword in my right hand ; with it will I strike if thou dost still 
refuse him." 

" Neither will I submit to force," she answered unabashed, 
" nor will I accept the love of any man ; and I know that Gymir 
is armed and ready to punish thy daring." 

Then Skirnir rose from his seat in wrath, and replied to her in 
these words : 

" Maiden, seest thou this sword in my hand ? With it I shall 
slay the old Jotun, thy father, if he dares offer me battle. But 
thee I shall conquer by means of my magic wand. Hearken to 
the words which I trace in runic staves : — 

On an eagle's mount thou shalt early sit. 

Looking and turned towards Hel. 

Food shall to thee more loathsome be than is to any one 

The glistening serpent among men. 

Solitude, horror, bonds and impatience, 

Shall thy tears with grief augment. 

Sit thee down, and I will tell thee 

Of a whelming flood of care, and of a double grief. 

Terrors shall bow thee down the live-long day 
In the Jotun's courts, in thy chamber lone ; 
To the Hrimthurses' halls thou shalt each day. 


Crawl exhausted, joyless crawl ; 
Wail for pastime shalt thou have, 
And tears and misery. 

With three-headed Thurse thou shalt be ever bound, 

Or be without a mate. 

To the wold I have been, to the humid grove, 

A magic wand to get ; a magic wand I got. 

Wroth with thee shall Odin be, and wroth the Ase's Prince ; 

And Freyer too shall loathe thee. 

Flee, wicked maid, e'en ere thou shalt have felt 

The gods' dire vengeance. 

List, ye Jotuns, list, ye Thurses, 

Sons of Suttung ! also ye, ye Ases' selves ! 

How I forbid, how I prohibit 

Man's joy unto the damsel, 

Man's converse to the damsel. 

Abridged from ike "Edda." 

Skirnir ceased and took his knife to cut the runes from the 
magic wand on which they were carved. 

Gerda cried .shudderingly : 

" Turn away the fulfilment of thy curse, O hero ! Take from 
my hand this icy cup filled with old mead ! I never thought that 
it had been my lot to love one of the Ases' race. Listen to the 
words I speak most grudgingly, — 

' Barri the grove is named, which we both know, 
The grove of tranquil paths : 
Nine nights from now to Niord's son 
Gerd there will grant delight.'" 

Overjoyed at his success, Skirnir mounted his horse, and hast- 
ened to tell his master the good news. 

Freyer rejoiced, yet cried, impatiently, 
Long is one night, yet longer two will be ; 
How shall I nine endure .'' 
Often has a month to me seemed less 
Than half a night of longing. 


Freyer met Gerda at the appointed time in the grove Barri, and 
their wedding was solemnized, wakening the earth out of winter's 
sleep, and dressing her in bridal raiment of spring blossoms. 

This, as the poem teaches us, happens every year ; the bright 
god of summer slays Beli, the snow-covered giant of wintry storms, 
and woos fair Gerda, the Earth, who, herself of the race of giants, 
is held in bonds of ice by her father Gymir. 

Gymir was the same as Hymir, the Frost-giant conquered by 
Thor ; he was also related to Ogir, god of the blustering, wintry 
sea. Freyer gives his good sword, the ray of sunshine, to his 
servant Skirnir, that he may force the unwilling Gerda to become 
his bride. The messenger, in the oldest tradition the god himself, 
offers the unwilling maiden the golden ring from which eight other 
rings drop each ninth night, even as the corn that is sown late in 
autumn grows and ripens in nine months. He threatens the hard- 
hearted girl with runes which he carves on a magic wand, and 
which his curse makes powerful for evil. His curse dooms her to 
marry Hrimgrimnir, or be buried alone under the ice of winter. 
Just as he is about to cut off the runes, that his curse may be ful- 
filled, fair Gerda yields to necessity and marries Freyer. 

Skirnir's Journey is one of the most beautiful poems of the 
Edda, and certainly the ideas to which it gave rise in the mind of 
the poet are no less interesting. They are to be met with in other 
myths, and they also occur in fairy-tales and the heroic epics ; as, 
for instance, in the story of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, who 
is kept in the bondage of slumber by the chill embrace of winter, 
and wakened to new life by the warm kiss of the sun-prince. 

A similar tale is current in Denmark. 

Young Swendal was playing with a ball, and the ball flew out 
of his hands far away into the ladies' chamber. He went after it ; 
he came back again with love in his heart, for he had seen there 
a lovely damsel, whose picture had fixed itself upon his soul. 


Hark ! he heard voices calhng to him ; he thought it was his 
sister and his step-mother. 

" Hark ye, young Swendal," they said ; " fling not thy ball at 
me ; fling it rather at the fair maiden whom thou dost love. Nor 
shalt thou longer have peace or sleep, until thou hast released the 
blooming girl, lying oppressed by heavy grief." 

No sooner had he heard the words than he donned his fur-cloak, 
and entered the chamber where the court was assembled. 

He told them he would go into the mountains to ask his mother 
what he was to do, that he might free the grieving maiden 

They praised his errand, and he set out, and reached the moun- 
tain where his mother had been slumbering peacefully for many a 

As he entered, the walls and marble boulders burst asunder, the 
earth opened, and a voice cried out : 

" Who is it that wakens the weary sleeper } Can I not rest in 
peace beneath the dark ground ?" 

" Mother," he answered, " it is thy son that comes to seek thy 
counsel, as they told me that no longer should I have peace or 
sleep until I should release the blooming maiden who has suffered 
thraldom this many a long day." 

Thereupon the voice spake, — 

" Take, then, thy mother's last gifts, young Swendal, and set out 
that thou mayst find that which thy heart is yearning for." 

And suddenly there lay before him a sword, and without there 
neighed a noble steed. 

It was the sword that ever carries victory with it, and the 
stallion that gallops over land and sea, and never wearies ! 

Young Swendal girt the sword around his waist, mounted the 
steed, and rode away over the vast ocean, through green wood- 
lands beyond, until he reached the castle where the maiden was 
imprisoned and endured her bitter fate. 


He begged admittance of the surly keeper that sat outside the 
gate, promising him courtly honours when he should be king. 

The keeper replied morosely that the gate was of steel and the 
walls of solid marble, and inside a fierce lion and a grim bear 
kept watch, to tear to pieces any intruding stranger, unless it were 
young Swendal. 

When the rider heard these words, his heart gladdened, and, set- 
ting deep the spurs into his noble steed, he leaped right into the 
court-yard. The ferocious beasts crouched humbly at his feet, and 
the lime-tree with its golden leaves bent to the ground before him 
for he was the long-awaited master. 

The longing maiden heard the tinkling of the rider's spurs, and 
awoke from her death-like s}umber. Her heart was filled with the 
thought of her bold redeemer ; she ran to the gate and sank into 
the arms of young Swendal. 


Through the shady forest once strode a powerful young hunts- 
man. His eyes beamed with the fire of his soul, and his strong 
manly frame was clad in a light hunting dress, decked with eagle's 
feathers ; his broad, trusty sword clanked in its sheath as he went, 
and in his right hand he bore a spear. 

Several attendants followed him, and two large greyhounds 
sprang round him with mighty bounds. Suddenly they stopped, 
threw back their heads and began barking loudly, then disappeared 
in the dense bushes hard by. 

A loud, fearful roar came out from where the hounds had 
entered the underwood, and the bushes creaked and groaned, as 
though trampled under the foot of some enormous giant, and a 


monstrous wild ox of untold proportions rushed out, chasing the 

As soon as it reached the open space where the huntsman and 
his followers stood, it lowered its monstrous head, and, catching 
one of the dogs round the neck in its rounded horns, hurled it high 
into the sky. But at the same moment the huntsman's spear 
hissed through the air, and entered deep into the ox's fleshy neck. 

The monster turned fiercely towards its new opponent, but the 
huntsman did not budge from his place. All would have thought 
him lost, so unequal did the chances seem, so terrible did the 
giant ox appear. 

Calm and collected, the bold youth awaited the onslaught of the 
monster, then seized it by the horns, and, straining his whole 
strength into his shoulders, with superhuman power, overthrew it 
on its back. Before it could rise again the huntsman's foot pressed 
heavily upon its throat, and soon his trusty sword put an end to 
the battle, a stifled roar telling that the life flame of the monstrous 
ox had at length gone out. 

The huntsman's followers had not shared in the fight, for they 
knew their master and his mighty strength, and had no fear for 
the result. They now went silently to their work, took off the wild 
ox's skin from his steaming carcase, and bore it to their master's 
castle. He, however, laid himself down under the shade of an oak- 
tree close by, and sank into a deep reverie. 

A rustling sound in the neighbouring ferns woke him from his 
dreams, and, when he looked up, the tall figure of a woman stood 
before him, encircled by an unearthly shimmering light. 

A snowy, trailing garment, bound by a golden girdle, draped 
her wondrous limbs ; her flaxen locks shone through the transpa- 
rent web that covered her head, and rich golden ornaments decked 
her neck and shoulders. 

The young noble gazed in wonderment at his unknown visitor ; 


he knew not whether, he was awake or whether he still slept, or 
whether the figure was but a creation of his own unconscious mind. 
But the more he looked at it the clearer did it become. It did not 
vanish ; it was full of life. 

" Hero of the Wolsings," Freya began, and her voice sounded 
not of the earth, but rang clear as a silver bell : " offspring of the 
Wolsing race, why dost thou discolour thy blade with mere ox 
blood ? Rather should it be tinged with the dragon's blood, he 
that lurks in Asgard's holy groves, and drains the mind and mar- 
row of mankind with eager jaws. Dost thou not hear his coils 
rattle ? dost thou not see the ramparts he has erected .'' Go thou, 
brave youth, and slay with thy strong arm the bane of Asgard that 
defies the holy gods. Wodan ensures thee victory. A life ended 
in glory is a life lived long enough." 

The noble youth hearkened to her words in silent rapture, for 
she gave utterance to what he had long craved to accomplish. He 
looked up to the eagle as it hovered above his head on out-spread 
wings ; but turning his eyes again to the vision of the fair woman, 
lo ! she had vanished out of sight ! 

No longer did he doubt, Freya herself or one of her maidens 
had brought to him great Wodan's behest. 

He forthwith sped through the wood to the Meeting of the Wise 
Men, and related all that he had heard and seen, and the task 
that had been set him. The men struck their shields in token of 
approval, and the quiet wood resounded again with the clash. 

The crowd dispersed ; each man returned to his native hamlet, 
and gathered together all the youths fit for war. In the third night 
they assembled, and, led by the youthful hero, fell upon the host 
of the Roman intruders, who were defeated in a bloody struggle 
that lasted three days. 

Thus was the Roman dragon, the bane of Asgird, slain, and the 
people delivered by the hero, Arminius. 


Such was the conception of Freya among the Teutonic tribes. 
She was the mighty goddess who sat by the side of Wodan on the 
high throne above the worlds, ruHng over heaven and earth, guid- 
ing the fate of nations, allotting the issue of battles. Together 
with the Walkyries, or at their head, she hovered over the battle- 
field, and bestowed victory or a glorious death on the heroes. She 
shared the fallen warriors with her spouse, great Wodan, and led 
those of her portion to Folkwang (folk-meadow) and to her radiant 
hall, Sessrumnir (room of seats), where she dealt out to them the 
inspiring mead. 

It seems also that she was more especially worshipped as 
Mother-Earth, being identical with Nerthus, the Jord (Earth) of 
Scandinavia, who drove among the people in her sacred chariot 
adorning the earth with fresh green, with blossoms and blades, 
making the seeds to thrive, and blessing the fruits of the field. 

The Scandinavian myths made a decided distinction between 
Freya and Frigg. They held Frigg to be the highest amongst the 
goddesses, whilst to Freya the second place was given ; nor was 
she looked upon as the wife of Odin. She was the daughter of the 
Wane-god, Niorder, and sister of loving Freyer, who each year 
marries fair Gerda. As goddess of beauty and love, she blesses 
all lovers who turn to her with prayers and sacrifices ; but when 
marriage was solemnized it was great Frigg whom the husband 
and wife were bound to invoke. 

The South German races knew of no such distinction between 
the goddesses ; so they regarded Friday, the day dedicated to 
Freya, as the fittest for a wedding, and this custom was not given 
up until the Christian priests convinced the people that the day on 
which the Saviour was crucified must necessarily be an unlucky 
one. Yet they could not change the name of Friday, which still 
remains to this day. 

At the time of King Harald lived Rerir, son of Thorkill the 



Redbeard. In all his warlike strength he strove against the king ; 
but the battle went against him, and he sought shelter on a lonely 

Helga was his love ; but her father, the king's chief warrior and 
his faithful vassal, despised the poor houseless outcast. 

Rerir, full of longing to behold once more his loved Helga, built 
a small, strong boat, and boldly landed near the castle where she 
dwelt with her father. 

She stood upon the beach, wistfully looking over the bounding 
billows, which suddenly tossed at her feet a tiny craft; Rerir 
leapt upon the shore, and stood by her side. 

Tearfully she told him how her cruel father was about to force 
her into a marriage with a noble of the court, yet vowed to him 
that none but he should ever have her love. 

" Helga ! " he cried, " a lonely isle 

There lies beyond the foaming sea — 
Bold rovers know the safe retreat— 

O be thou mine, and fly with me ! " 

Trembling, yet half-willing, she refused to go with him. Rerir, 
full of grief and deadly pale, sank broken-hearted to her feet, 
entreating her again in passionate words. 

No longer could she bear to look upon the anguish that she gave 
her loved one, no longer could she withstand his glowing words 
that spake of rapture shared by each : 

Down she steppeth with the hero 

To the foaming wave-washed strand ; 
" Where thou wendest, my beloved, 

Is alone my home, my land ! " 

And the gaily-coloured vessel 

Screens the youthful, loving pair ; 
Swelling sails and guiding rudder 

Save the hero and his fair. 


Hastening after them the vessels 

Of her father quick pursue ; 
Far beyond thetn speed the lovers, 

And the land is lost to view. 

On the ocean's stormy bosom 

Cast about, they fain would die ; 
And they wither like the blossom 

That has met the Evil Eye. 

Suddenly the piercing sunbeams 

Burst the clouds, illuming all ; 
Lo ! from out the heaving billows 

Rises Freya's blessed hall. 

Peacefully, without a struggle, 

Enter the twain lovers in. 
Quitting earth and life's hard battle ; 

Blessed they who Frey's hall win ! 

Freya always bears the radiant necklace Brisingamen, the 
sparkling jewels of the heavens, the gaily-coloured flowers of 
spring, when regarded as the goddess of nature and ruler of the 
world, or as Mother Earth. When the skalds dethroned her from 
her lofty height, humanizing her nature and her attributes, the 
myth arose which told how the necklace was gained. 

Four skilful dwarfs made it, according to the legend, in their 
underground smithy, and worked into it the most costly jewels that 
the earth produced, so that it glanced and glittered like the sun 
herself. * But Freya chanced to see it, and her eyes were almost 
blinded at its wondrous splendour. In exchange for it the dwarfs 
asked nothing but her grace, which she extended to them, and 
thus gained the necklace. 

The goddess of beauty and love was described as a maiden in 

• See note on page 24. 


the Northern poems ; yet there is a myth according to which she 
was married to Odur, a scion of divine ancestry. She lived happily 
with him, and several lovely daughters blessed their union. 

But Freya was to learn that happiness is not eternal ; for Odur 
left her, and with him all joy and gladness passed out of her 

All Nature sorrowed with her ; the flowers withered and faded, 
the leaves fell from the trees, the earth looked waste and gloomy. 
Freya moaned and wept day and night ; her tears shone like 
golden drops of dew in the Autumn sunshine. And so she spent 
the long winter miserable and alone in her deserted hall. 

Then she could bear it no longer ; she set out in search of her 
lost spouse, and wandered far and wide through distant lands and 
amongst strange nations. She sought her lover diligently, and 
found him at last in the evergreen fields where the golden fruit 
ripens and the myrtle blooms. She clasped him lovingly in her 
arms, and tears of joy, golden as the blaze of the new spring sun, 
fell from her eyes when he returned her love with love. 

On their arrival home again on their native earth, they were 
received with the thousand-voiced song of birds ; and the many- 
coloured flowers and leafy trees whispered of love and of summer 

The beautiful goddess strove with all the force of love to keep 
her husband by her side, that he should never leave her again ; 
but all in vain, for when Virgo sank after the autumnal equinox, he 
once more left her and again wandered to the far country in the 
unknown distance. 

In the Fiolswinn Lay the same idea underlies the whole poem. 

Menglada (jewel-gladness) awaits her bridegroom in her castle, 
which is guarded by grim wolf-hounds and encircled by a wall 
of fire. 

A watchman, Fiolswider (much-knower), stands at the entrance. 


and sees a stranger coming in the distance. He approaches, and 
seeks admittance. The watchman cries — 

" This is no place for beggars ; seek thou the damp and foggy 
highway, and begone." 

To which the wanderer makes answer — 

" What monster art thou, that guards the entrance ; of what 
race canst thou be, who refusest hospitality to the weary 
traveller ? " 

" Fiolswider is my name, in that I am wise in cautious counsel. 
Therefore canst thou not enter this castle." 

The wanderer cast a longing look towards the castle-window, 
and replied — 

" Unwillingly do I turn my eyes away, having once seen what I 
seek. Here, where a glowing belt girds golden halls, could I find 

Then the watchman demands of him his name and race, and 
hears that he is Windkald (wind-cold), son of Warkald (spring- 
cold). The stranger asks who is the owner of the castle, and is 
informed that it belongs to Menglada ; he asks what is the girdle 
that surrounds the castle like a wall of flame, and whether there 
is no way to tame the grim wolf-dogs that sit on guard ; he asks, 
too, of the mountain on which the castle stands, of the nine 
maidens who sit before Menglada's knee, and whether no man can 
enter the golden hall and go to her. 

To all his questions he receives enigmatical replies, but to the 
last the watchman says that none can ever cross the threshold but 
young Swipdager, the expected bridegroom. 

Thereupon he cries out — 

" Throw open the gates, make way for the expected one ! Swip- 
dager has arrived, and seeks admittance ! " 

The watchman hastens to the hall of Menglada, and tells her 
that a man has come who calls himself Swipdager, whom the wolf- 


dogs have joyfully greeted, before whom the castle gates have 
flung themselves wide open. 

" May shining ravens tear out thine eyes if thou hast lied to 
me that my long awaited lover has at last returned ! " cries the 
maiden joyously, and hurries towards the entrance. As soon as 
her eyes alight upon the stranger, she knows him as her lover, and 
flings her arms around him. 

" Whither hast thou been ? whence hast thou come ? what art 
thou called out there .' " 

He tells her that he has come upon the wind-cold (Windkald) 
way, that the unalterable word of the Norns had taken him thither 
and borne him thence. 

And she responded — 

" Welcome art thou back again ! my wish is fulfilled. Long have 
I sat on the high hill, looking for thee by day, looking for thee by 
night. All that I longed for has at length come to pass, for thou 
art here again at my side." 






HE old Greeks called the 
power which ruled over the 
deeds, the suffering, the life and 
struggles of man, Moira (Latin, 
Fatum), and were of opinion 
that the gods, if not actually dependent on it, were at least 
subordinate to it. Later, they held that there were three Fates 
— Future, Present and Past, and connected them with the birth, 
life and death of man. Their names and occupation are given in 
the well-known verse : 

" Klotho begins, Lachesis spins, 

Atropos cuts the thread in two." 


To these was added Nemesis, the avenger of human insolence 
and of every evil deed. At length, when the old religion faded 
away, they began to worship Tyche, blind chance or fortune, 
erected altars to her, and offered sacrifices to her. 

The Teutonic ideas were curiously similar to those of the people 
of the south. Orlog or Urlak, Fate, the eternalJawjDf the universe, 
rule d over gods and men. The latter werepowerlessjnj^ts hands^^ 
therefore the hero bore his fate with resignation after he had 
striven his best t o turn it aside ; the gods foresaw what was 
to befal them, but even their divinity could not avert their 

Orlog was neither created nor begotten, and was impersonal ; 
he was of special significance in war, and even to this day a 
German war-ship of the first magnitude is called an Orlog-ship. 
This being, which ruled in secret, gained recognition and personal- 
ity in Allfather, the Creator, Sustainer, Upholder and Ruler of 
the world, who existed undefined in the consciousness of the 
people. He was the unknown god who was to call the new world 
into being after the Last Battle and the destruction of the 
universe. He was the highest conception of Odin. Lastly, Orlog 
reappears in the Regin, the Powers who ruled the world, and who, 
seated on their judgment thrones by the Fountain of Urd, deter- 
mined the fate of men, and judged their actions. Whenever they 
showed themselves individually, they were Ases, but not such Ases 
as those who ate, drank, slept, and had adventures like mortal 
men ; they were mightier and nobler than those, although they 
were likewise possessed of passions and affections similar to the 

The Regin come most prominently into view in the Starkad 
legend, where they determine the fate of the mythical hero 
Starkad. This Wiking may with considerable resemblance be 
compared with the Grecian Herakles ; just as Zeus and Hera 


decide the destiny of the latter, so do Odin and Freya of the 

Starkad was of half-giant descent, and alreaay when a child, 
like the Jotuns, of super-human stature, and furnished with eight 
arms. Under the training and by the magic of his master. Horse- 
hair Beard (Hroszharsgrani), he not only gained great learning 
and heroic valour, but was also endowed with human form and 
manly beauty. 

When he grew up to be a youth, his master took a boat and 
sailed away with him to an unknown island. A great crowd was 
on the beach, and round the council-tree sat eleven grave men 
of noble appearance upon thrones ; a twelfth and higher throne 
remained unoccupied. Horse-hair Beard mounted it, and was 
greeted by all as Great Odin. 

Then the speaker arose — it was Asathor — and said, "Alfhild, 
Starkad's mother, chose not Asathor as father for her child, but 
a giant; therefore I decree that he be childless, the last of his 

"Yet I," said Odin, "grant him a life three times the length of 
mortal man." 

" Then," answered Asathor, " I destine him to do in each age 
a grievous outrage that shall be a work of shame and dishonour 
in the eyes of man." 

Odin replied again, "And I bestow on him the stoutest armour 
and most precious garments." 

" I forbid him," said Asathor, " both house and home, nor shall 
a piece of land be ever his." 

" And I allot him gold and flocks in fullest plenty," answered 

" Then I doom him to ever-growing thirst for gold and wealth, 
that he may never enjoy peace of mind." 


Odin returned, "I confer on him valour and prowess, and 
victory in battle." 

" Yet shall he from each combat bear a wound that reaches to 
the very bone," was Thor's reply. 

"The noble lore of the skalds shall be his," continued his 
protector, "that he may sing; and each of his words shall be 
a song." 

" His memory shall be cursed with forgetfulness of all that he 
has sung." 

" The noblest and the best among men shall love and honour 
him," spake Odin. 

" But all his tribe shall shun and hate him," was Thor's last 

The assembled Regin entered into council, and decreed that all 
should come to pass as Odin and Asathor had willed. 

Thus ended the judgment, and Horse-hair Beard descended 
from his high throne, and went to the boat with his foster-son. 

Starkad grew to be one of the most famous of the mythical 
heroes, and his name was handed down and celebrated even in 
historical times throughout the northern countries. 

Once when on a Wiking raid with King Wikar of Norway, the 
fleet was overtaken by a tempest, and he had to seek shelter in a 
protected creek. He had hoped for a rich booty, but the hurri- 
cane continuing for many days prevented his starting. Vain were 
all prayers and sacrifices. Odin demanded a human life. 

Then it was resolved to cast the fatal runes, and the lot fell to 
the king himself. Nobody dared to pronounce the dire decree, 
still less to put it into execution ; when, all on a sudden, a man in 
a broad-brimmed hat appeared in the night before Starkad. He 
saw at once that it was Horse-hair Beard ; he gave Starkad a 
thin willow branch and a reed. 

Starkad at once understood the will of the god, and the next 


day presented himself before the king to show him these harmless 
objects, telling him that the gods would be satisfied with the mere 
show of a sacrifice : the king was to suffer the slender branch to 
be laid around his neck ; they were then to tie him to the thin 
bough of a tree, and touch him with the reed. Thus the sacrifice 
would be accomplished, and Odin would again send them a pro- 
pitious wind. 

Wikar accepted this proposal ; but the thin bough of the tree 
sprang upwards, the willow branch was changed into a rope, and 
the reed which Starkad flung at the king was turned into a spear, 
which pierced the victim to the heart. 

Such was one of the shameful outrages that Starkad the Wiking 
perpetrated, as Asathor had doomed he should, although the 
myth does not point out that it was done with the aid of Odin. 

The hero, reckless of his evil deed, went on his further adven- 
tures, and performed marvellous and valorous feats in Sweden, 
Denmark, Ireland and Esthonia among the various nations. 

During the winter months, when at the courts of other kings, he 
sang of his far-famed Wiking raids and combats, and princes and 
Jarls listened to his lays in silent admiration of the mighty 
champion, while the people dreaded and hated him for his devas- 

Yet he received also many wounds, and once even fought with a 
split head, his helmet alone keeping his head together. Moreover, 
when an old man of a hundred years, he slew nine warriors, 
although his bowels hung from his wounded side. In the memor- 
able Battle of Brawalla he had his body cut open from the 
shoulder to the chest, so that his very liver was laid bare. All 
these wounds miraculously healed, for according to Odin's sentence 
he had to live three ages. 

Thus the Ases appear as Regin, forecasting the fate of man, 
which cannot fail to come to pass. 


King Fridleif of Denmark was rich in treasures, which he had 
gathered together by bold deeds from the giants and the dragons 
that he had slain. Once when on his adventures he entered the 
cottage of a peasant, who received him hospitably. There he won 
the love of fair Juritha, the daughter of the honest cottager, and 
took her home with him. She bore him a son, who was called 

The ninth night after the birth of the child, Fridleif took him to 
the temple of the three sisters of Fate, to ask them about the future 
destiny of the boy. Before he entered the sacred grove, he read 
prayers to the godhead that the decree should be propitious, and 
made solemn pledges. Then he stepped into the temple, and saw 
three maidens upon thrones in the holy place, and they looked 
down upon him in silence as he approached. 

The first goddess was grey with age, yet looked friendly and 
happy, even as the joyous days of past youth ; the second raised 
her hand aloft, like a Walkyrie, whoj looking towards the enemy 
on the field of battle, points out the way the heroes should 
advance ; the third glanced darkly from under the veil which 
covered her temples. 

" The noble youth shall be beautiful," said Urd of kindly heart, 
" and shall gain the love and service of men." 

" I grant him untold valour in combat and generosity towards 
friends," continued Werdandi. 

Thereto dark-frowning Skuld added, " Yet insatiable covetous- 
ness shall stain his soul." 

We have frequently spoken of the Norns in preceding portions 
of the book. They are the Fatal Sisters who sit at the foot of the 
World-Ash Yggdrasil by the fountain of Urd. They can foresee 
the destiny of man, and make it known through the mouth of 
prophetesses and priests, or utter it themselves. At the same 
time they also make the fate of mortals to a certain extent, as is 


seen from the above story. They hover over armies as they are 
starting for the battle-field, and cast the deadly lots among the 
warriors. They follow the blood-stained track of the murderer, 
just as the Erinnyae of the Greeks did, and fall upon him with 
their dire vengeance, no matter where or how he be hidden. 
They finally show upon the nails of man their runes, that is the 
white spots underneath the nail, which partly indicate good luck, 
partly misfortune ; formerly people understood their meaning and 
could read them, but in our days this art has been lost, because 
with man's averted faith in the Fates, all fear and respect for 
them also disappeared, so that they now manifest themselves in 
all sorts of more horrible ways. 

The name Norn has quite disappeared from Germany, if indeed 
it was ever known there. The Anglo-Saxons called the Fatal 
Sisters Mettena, i.e., the measurers, those who weighed in the 
balance. In the oldest conception of them, the sisters were held 
to be one, and were known as Wurd or Urd, in Anglo-Saxon 
Wyrd. But at the same time they were also known as a trinity. 

In heathen times the three sisters were worshipped in a sacred 
grove. They were regarded as protectresses of the place, and in 
Christian times as saints who had erected chapels and shrines, 
but who nevertheless perished in the ruins of their castle. 
Another idea was that the three prophetesses lived on a hill 
surrounded by water. They span and wove linen, which they 
afterwards gave away to the people. They sang at christenings 
and marriages, which betokened good luck, and for this reason 
three ears of corn were offered up to them at the harvest. Thus 
the fear of the terrible Norns, who pursued the vile-doer and spun 
the irremediable thread of man's destiny, awarding life and death 
according to their pleasure, became softened in course of time ; 
while, on the contrary, the idea of Hel, the goddess of the under- 
world, grew ever more and more appalling. 


We have already made the acquaintance of the goddess Hcl 
as a monster horrible to look upon, and the daughter of Loki ; 
but the original conception of her was far different from this. 
Death was not terrible in the oldest time. Mother Earth, who 
bore the living, and took the dead back to her bosom, appeared 
in no gruesome form to the ancients. 

The patriarchs of Israel, after a long life of struggle, blessed 
their sons and made their will known to them, and then laid their 
heads down peacefully and quietly to take their eternal rest. 
Similar ideas may have prevailed amongst the Aryan races in 
their native land. The shepherd princes who watched their flocks 
and herds looked upon life and death calmly, and worshipped 
Mother Earth as the author of birth and dissolution, without 
fearing her. 

But when the people began to distinguish spiritual life from the 
merely corporeal, Hel became the Ruler and Judge of souls. 
Meanwhile these conceptions of life after death were rather un- 
satisfactory in some respects. Homer made the spirits of the 
dead glide about like unconscious shadows moved by every breath 
of wind ; in the poems of Ossian they whispered to the living in 
the waving of the reeds, the murmuring of the billows, and in the 
coming and going of the clouds, in which they appear to have had 
their dwelling. 

Homer tells us of the punishment borne by those spirits who 
were condemned to Tartaros, and in the time of Tacitus the 
Teutons appear to have already had ideas respecting reward and 
punishment after death. They knew of Walhalla, where the 
storm and war-god, Wodan, received the souls of fallen heroes, 
But Hel was still the Earth-mother who dwelt in the depths, who 
made the plants grow and rise in the light of day ; or she was 
Nerthus, who, under the guidance of the priests, went out to greet 
the people and wander through their land. The Edda only 


PDntains scattered allusions to the great goddess of former days, 
who decked the earth with flowers and fruits, who gave life and 
energy to man and beast, and who called her children back to her. 
bosom. Odin is there said to have given her power over the nine 
v/orlds, or, according to another version, over the ninth world ; but 
certainly the great goddess of life and death may be described 
as having dominion over the nine worlds. She was represented 
as half corpse-like, half of an ordinary colour, which showed her 
power over life and death. The Brahmins described their goddess 
of nature after much the same fashion. 

Holda was the bright side of the goddess of nature. In contra- 
distinction to her, the dark, black side of Hel came ever more 
strongly prominent, the greater the horrors of death and the grave 
appeared. The Edda teaches us that it took nine nights' ride 
through dark valleys to reach the river Giol, which was spanned 
by a gold-covered bridge, on the other side of which was the 
high iron fence surrounding the dwelling of the goddess of the 
Under-world. No living creature, were he even a god, could bear 
to look upon that terrible face. 

Her hall was called Misery, her dish Hunger, her knife Greed ; 
Idleness was the name of her man. Sloth of her maid. Ruin of her 
threshold. Sorrow of her bed, and Conflagration of her curtains. 
Within her realm. Corpse-strand, a hall was set apart for assassins 
and perjurers ; it was far from the sun and turned towards the 
north, and was roofed with serpents, whose heads hung down and 
spat their venom upon the floor, causing unspeakable torment to 
the wicked who were confined there. Still more horrible than this 
v/as Hwergelmir, the roaring cauldron, where the dragon Nidhogg 
devoured the corpses of the evil-doers. In front of Hel's dwelling 
was the Gnypa cavern. The monstrous dog Garm lived there, 
from whose jaws the blood constantly dripped as he gnashed his 
teeth and growled at the new arrivals of the pilgrims of earth. 



These and other terrible pictures show the Northern Hel as ' 
described in the later poems, but they were scarcely founded on 
the conceptions of the old Teutons regarding her. Still there are 
other places which prove that Hel also had a more kindly aspect, 
and that she received with a joyous welcome the good and worthy 
who might come to her. 

When glorious Baldur was sent to her by insidious Loki's 
perfidy, he found the halls gorgeously decorated, the thrones all 
covered with spangles of gold, and goblets filled to the brim with 
sweet mead. For the goddess had also halls of joy for the good 
and brave who were not received in Walhalla. 

In the Whispering Valley (Wisperthal), where lisping elf-maid- 
ens invite the wanderer to deceptive joys, there lies on a low cone- 
shaped hill the ruins of an ancient castle. In the underground 
caverns beneath, a black-and-white spirit-maiden is said to guard 
her hidden treasures. They say that many years ago she betrayed 
the treasures of the abbey to the enemy for gold, for which crime 
she was excommunicated by the Church at Rome ; her spirit will 
not find rest, it is said, until the enemy has been conquered and 
the stolen treasures restored. Formerly she was often seen by the 
light of the full moon, weeping and bewailing as she wandered 
among the ruins ; but of late years the spectre has not appeared. 
Perhaps the unknown enemy has been conquered, thus obtaining 
for her respite from her troubles. 

The appearance of this black-and-white maiden reminds us of 
the wicked goddess Hel, and she may also be compared with 
Hilde, the Walkyrie who ever awakened up again the slain war- 
riors in the strife between Hogni and Hedin, that the fight might 
be continued. 



At Hledra . the proudest town in all the northern lands, sat 
King Hrolf Kraki one yule-tide with his twelve warriors, and 
together they emptied the goblets of sparkling wine. They vowed 
eternal companionship, that they would ever stand Side by side in 
the fight, and if need be die together. 

When summer came, they went out to battles and to wars, and 
many a Jarl and many a king was made tributary to them. 

" Odin is with us," said Bodwar Biarki, one of the twelve. 

" The Walkyries have protected us," said Hialti, another 

" May they always grant us victory," added a third, " and guide 
us all in safety to Walhalla." 

As they were thus speaking, Wogg, a young lad, came up to 
them, and asked to be allowed to take service under the king. 
Kraki gave him a golden ring. 

As the boy fastened it on his left arm he said, " Now must my 
right arm be ashamed, lacking ornament." 

Therefore the king, smiling, gave him a second ring. 

Whereupon Wogg, laying his hand on Freyer's wild boar, vowed 
that he would be the King's avenger, if he were ever slain by the 

King Hrolf Kraki once took his warriors to Upsala, where his 
father Helgi had been slain, to demand of the avaricious Adil, the 
spouse of Yrsa, his father's ring. 

After a day's journey, he came to the peasant Hrany, who 
greeted him kindly, and advised him to send some of his people 
back as they would only be in the way during the fight. 

The peasant wore a large hat, which completely shaded his face ; 
he had only one eye, but he spoke so wisely, that his advice was 
followed. The next evening they came to the same house, in 
front of which stood the same peasant. 


Again they received the same advice, and King Hrolf now saw 
clearly that this was a man versed in magic lore, and he dismissed 
all the servants of his warriors. 

The peasant looked pensively after the departing king ; then he 
beckoned with his right hand, as though he were calling a servant, 
and through the clouds and evening mists appeared seven maidens, 
mounted on white steeds, armed with shields and clad in chain- 
mail. They stopped before him. 

" Hrist (storm) and Mist (cloud-grey), Thrud (power) and Goll 
(herald), Gondul (she-wolf) and Skogul (carrier through), and thou, 
bold Hilde (war), use your art with King Hrolf, that he may be 

Thus spoke the peasant, and the Walkyries hastened away to 
carry out his behest. 

Then followed, through the treachery of the false Adil, fierce 
frays, in all of which the heroes conquered, and they returned in 
triumph to their home. They again sought lodging with Hrany, 
and they found him more hospitable than before. He showed 
Hrolf a shield, a sword, and a shirt of mail, saying, — 

" Take the weapons, thou wilt have need of them." 

But Hrolf refused to take such costly gifts from a peasant, 
whereupon Hrany waxed wroth, his face grew dark as night, and 
his eyes flashed fire. 

" Then quit my house, rash sons of the Jotuns," he cried ; " the 
Norn has beclouded your minds, she throws the thread north- 

The ground shook ; the very house groaned and cracked, 
as though the building would fall. The heroes, terrified, mount- 
ed their stallions, and rode away. At last Biarki broke the 

" I think," he said, " that we have been foolish. The peasant is 
more than he seems." 


" It is Odin himself, the one-eyed god," answered Hrolf; "let 
us return and seek him." 

But it was in vain, for both Hrany and his house had disap- 

For some time the king remained quietly at Hledra with his 
warriors ; for he was afraid that the Father of Victory was dis- 
pleased with him. The tributary princes and Jarls paid their taxes, 
without daring to raise the banner against their victorious lord. 

At last, however, Skuld, Hrolf's sister, begged her husband, 
Hiorward, to take up arms against the king. She used cunning 
magic and baneful witchery in order to attain her end. Under the 
pretext of paying the tribute, they both arrived in the castle with 
many followers, leaving- many mounted men concealed outside, 

The king received them with great honour, and gave a festive 
drinking-bout. But when he and his followers, overcome by sleep 
and wine, lay resting in the halls, the troop of traitors silently crept 
in and slaughtered many a sleeping hero, Hialti, who was out- 
side, came back, just as the fighting had begun. He wakened 
Badwar Biarki. Both took their arms, and killing everybody who 
came in their way, they reached the king's sleeping hall, where 
the king armed himself amid his warriors. 

Then Hrolf said, " Well, valiant comrades, drink with me the 
last cup to Odin, as we are going the way of Death." 

They all drank with great zeal, and Biarki said : " Do you see 
the Walkyries above us, how they smile under their helmets and 
beckon to us .' We come to you, powerful maidens ; soon you 
will bear us to Walhalla, where Freya herself brings to the heroes 
foaming mead. But as long as life is granted to us, let us do 
our duty faithfully, that we may die an honourable death and 
show ourselves worthy of renown and skaldic song." 

Thus spoke the undaunted hero, and the warriors following 
closely on the king, pressed forward against the foe, and their 


swords clashed as if a whole army was fighting. The conspira- 
tors fell under their blows and retreated from the halls and 
castle, and the men of Hledra followed their brave lord as though 
to victory. 

In the meanwhile Hiorward brought fresh troops, and the per- 
nicious Skuld stood in the midst of the battle, and by her magic 
songs she revived the fallen warriors. 

The heroes fell one after the other around their warlike king, 
who towered in their midst. Shots whizzed round him, sword- 
blows clashed on helmet and shield; but the traitors fell before 
his mighty strokes. Only when his armour was utterly destroyed 
did he fall pierced with lances on the bloody ground, profusely 
strewed with armour and with broken weapons. Hialti lay dying 
at his feet. Biarki stood still, but his colour was pale, his 
helmet and shield broken, his breast-plate and heart pierced by a 

The colour from his cheek is fled, 

He speaks with quaking breath ; 
All power has left my weary limb, 

That burns the wound of death. 

Hialti lies upon the ground 

Beside the dying king ; 
The Hero-King grants me to kiss 

His lips ere life takes wing. 

At his head will I gladly sink. 

Without fear, without dismay ; 
Walkyries above me beckoning 

Bless'd shield-maidens gray. 

They call, inviting us above, 

The heroes they bid speed 
To Odin's glorious halls. 

Where they deal out ale and mead. 

Hiorward, the victor, and Skuld sat together in the festive hall 
at the drmking bout, laughing over their wicked cunning. 


Then the enchantress said, " My brother has died with all his 
heroes as a Skioldung, a descendant of the noblest race of kings on 
the whole earth." 

" Then is none of his brave men left ? " asked the king. " I 
would honour him highly, and seat him as the first under my 

Just as he had thus spoken a man covered with blood came up 
to him without weapons, but on each arm a golden ring. All 
knew him well, for he was Wogg, the same whom Hrolf had once 
received into his company. He said he would like to serve his new 
master faithfully ; but he had no sword, as he had broken his in 
the fight. Then Hiorward handed him his own great sword ; but 
Wogg said that Hrolf always held the sword at the point when he 
gave it to a man. This the king did also ; but as soon as Wogg 
had the handle in his h?nd he dug the point deep into the king's 
breast with the words : 

" Go thou to the kingdom of Hel, false traitor, where thou shalt 
walk through valleys of misery." 

Then he received innumerable mortal wounds by Hiorward's 
warriors. With a dying struggle he dragged himself towards the 
yet living Hrolf, and said : 

" Now have I fulfilled my promise, and have avenged my mas- 
ter. But I see them — the Walkyries. They have lifted the heroes 
on their horses ; they wait for me. I follow ye ; I come from 
blood and the pains of earth to share the joys of Asgard's glorious 
hall ! " 

The prophetesses who foretold victory to the people, or who 
even took part in the battle, holding up the banner in their strong 
hands, were either distinguished by their great and healthy old 
age or by their youth and beauty. When the warriors saw them 
standing amongst the chiefs and nobles filled with the enthusiastic 
certainty of victory, issuing their commands and uttering words of 


counsel which tended to ensure the victory they had prophesied, 
they may well have regarded them as supernatural beings worthy 
of all honour. It was the same with the Scandinavians. Many 
a warrior-maiden fought in the famous Brawalla battle ; , but yet 
these Amazons were, on that occasion, unable to change the fate 
of the day. 

The existence of these Walas, or Amazons, formed the founda- 
tion of the belief in Walkyries, and poetic fancy imagined them to 
be heavenly beings, who gave victory to him that deserved it, and 
who took those mortals who had fallen bravely in the fight to 
Walhalla, that they might be with the Father of Battles and the 
blessed Einheriar. We have already met with them several times 
in the course of our history, riding on white horses and dressed in 
splendid armour, watching the fate of battles and of the heroes 
who took part in them. There were generally seven, nine, or even 
twelve choosers of the dead on such occasions, and Hilde (War) 
and the youngest Norn Skuld, were often comprised in their ranks. 
They rode on air and water, for their horses were the clouds that 
floated over the world of mortal men. They were possessed of 
swan garments, wrapped in which they could fly in the guise of 
swans to the place where heroes were contending for death or 

The celebrated Brynhilde was a Walkyrie. She said on her 
Hel ride that Agnar had stolen the swan garments belonging to 
her and her sisters, and had thus forced her to give him the vic- 
tory over Hialmgunnar against the will of Odin, for which reason 
the god had cast her into a magic sleep. Swawa and Sigrun, like 
Brynhilde, were of human extraction, and they used to hover pro- 
tectingly round their favourite heroes during the fight ; but they 
lost their Walkyrie power as soon as they married them. Maidens 
alone could receive the divine nature, which they lost again if ever 
they married a mortal hero. 


The Walkyries, Norns, and divine women reappear under the 
name of Dises. This appellation connects them with the war and 
sword-god Tins (Tyr, Zio). They were not his servants, however, 
but were quite independent of him. Idises, or Dises, were known 
and reverenced by the Teutons before the time of Tacitus. It 
seems that inspired prophetesses and seers like Weleda were looked 
upon as Idises. We have already shown what influence they pos- 
sessed in time of war ; but they used also to go about the land, 
enter houses, and bring help in sickness, for they knew of remedies 
which were of much avail to whomsover believed in their efficacy. 

It is said in Latin accounts that one of these women went to 
meet Drusus when he had advanced as far as the Elbe. She wore 
the Teutonic costume, was of superhuman height, and commanded 
the conqueror to withdraw from the sacred soil of the fatherland, 
for death was approaching him. He was so terrified that he was 
induced to retreat, and it is well known that he soon afterwards 
died of a fall from his horse. This tale probably had its rise in 
Teutonic tradition, but it shows what faith the ancients placed 
in the greatness and power of these prophetesses, who were also 
called Wise- Women. It was beautiful to see how these seers kept 
the desire for the weal of their people in their hearts, incited them 
to warlike deeds, carried their banner into the fray, bore the 
wounded out of the fight, bound up their hurts, and nursed them 
or brought help and healing to the sick. Very different was the 
reverse side of this picture, when they accompanied wandering 
hordes in their raids. Wild-looking figures with loosened hair, 
they there mixed with the fighting men, joined in the fierce battle- 
cry, and after victory had been attained they stood by the sacrifi- 
cial altar, slew the prisoners, and foretold future events by their 
witch-like incantations over the bodies of their victims. 

Old authors tell us of other women whom the people held to be 
Idises. One of these appeared to Attila by the Lech, and made 


him afraid to cross the river. Some writers are of opinion that 
they were called Alioruna, and prove their assertion by comparison 
with Jornandes, who maintained that the mis-shapen Huns were 
descended from the Aliorumnes. These beings were afterwards 
called Alrunes or Alrauns. 

It was said that the Alraun was cut out of a root with a distant 
resemblance to the human form. For a long time the well-known 
climbing plant, bryony, was regarded in Germany as an Alraun. 
But when the Germans invaded Italy in the tenth and eleventh 
centuries, they found the mandrake which resembled what they 
imagined much more nearly than the bryony. 

According to tradition this plant only grew under the gallows 
upon which some one had been hung. A wise woman dug there 
at midnight while using horrible incantations. The moment to 
enter on the search was at the time of the solstice, when the moon 
in its last quarter was throwing its pale light around. The root 
was disinterred with a low cry of pain. The woman, a look of 
madness on her face, hastened away with her prize, which writhed 
like a living thing in her arms. She took it home and laid it on 
her soft bed. There the misshapen creature lay before her, pale as 
death, without eyes, and on its thick skull a few bristly hairs were 
visible. She felt bound to it with an overflowing love like a 
mother to her child. She pressed two juniper berries into the 
holes where its eyes should have been, and a third one into the 
back of its head. These berries became real eyes, but were round, 
not oval, like human eyes. 

The earth-born creature grew rapidly under her care, but only 
reached the height of a three-years child. He climbed roofs and 
trees like a monkey, and laughed at his foster-mother's anxiety for 
him. He found and dug for her treasures of silver and gold that 
had lain hidden under the earth. 

Thus the family grew rich and respected, but the woman was not 



happy. Her father, trusting in his riches, strove to gain princely- 
power and was executed for high treason ; her lover and her 
brother killed each other for the sake of her wealth. The Alraun 
laughed at her tears ; he had a diabolical delight in plaguing her 
until at last she. died insane under the same gallows from beneath 
which she had dug him up. 

This story reminds us of Wodan, the hanging god, and of the 
degrading influence of wealth on the human mind. It also leads 
our thoughts on to the witches, who originally had no resemblance 
to the barbarous women we mentioned before. 




N the Black Forest, a few miles 
from Lake Mummel, whither 
we have once already led our 
reader, lay a village ; the inha- 
bitants were wont to delight themselves on the merry May- 
days with joyous game and dance. 

To these festivities there often came a strange maiden, who 
joined in the gay country dance. A string of pearls bound up 
her hair, and another hung round her neck ; a green silken 


robe draped her graceful figure. Her features were so exquisitely 
lovely, that the hearts of the young fellows beat higher in their 
breasts as they led the maiden to the dance. 

She seemed to favour one Michael Stauf more than all the 
rest. He was the strongest lad in wrestling and in boxing, and 
the most expert dancer. The old folk, who watched the games 
of the young people, said they had never seen a more comely 
pair upon the dancing green ; however, when the clock struck 
eleven, the young girl always left the dancers, and although 
many a lad followed her eagerly, she had disappeared into the 
darkness of the forest before he could come up with her. 

Yet once, as Michael followed her, he discovered traces of 
her footsteps ; he hastened after her, and overtook her. They 
walked on together side by side, until she led him by a path 
which he had never seen before, although the wood was fully 
known to him, since he had been born in it. 

After a while, they reached the lake. He asked her, if she 
would return with him to his farm, and be his wife. She 
answered, she would ask her father, who was a strict and severe 
man, but she feared he would not allow such a union. 

With these words she sprang into the water and disappeared 
from his sight. 

Michael now saw that_she was a water-nixie; but his heart 
still clung to her, and all his thoughts were how he should 
make her his own. 

The merry day of festivity was over ; work in the fields 
began, and left Michael little time for pondering on marriage. 
But when v/inter came, and his leisure hours were many, his 
imagination was constantly engaged in picturing to himself 
how happy he would be if he could only make the lovely maid 
in the green robe the mistress of his farm. Day and night he 
dreamed of her, and all the pleasure that he once had taken in 


games of cards and dice forsook him, and he never now visited 
the noisy company in the village inn, where formerly he had 
rarely failed. And in the spinning room he was never seen, 
and the spinsters were greatly troubled in their minds why the 
rich Michael no more visited them. 

Anxiously, full of longing, he awaited the month of May, and 
when at last it came round he was the first upon the dancing-green. 
His hopes were not deceived, the maiden of the lake appeared 
as before, and danced and chatted with him ; when the hour of 
eleven sounded from the bell, she accepted his company on the 
homeward road. Yet when he spoke of his marriage plans she 
became sad. 

" My father," she said, " will allow of no union with mortals, 
and he is very strict ; he allows no disobedience." 

" A woman shall leave father or mother, and cleave unto her 
husband," he cried ; " if thou wilt, we will at once return, get 
married, and when thou art in my home, we will see who can 
take thee away against both our wills." 

" Hush," she said, frightened, " lest my father hear thy words. 
Dost thou not see the springs and brooks around us ? Theyare 
all in his service ; they would swell up to furious torrents, and 
overwhelm us, if he bade them. Do not arouse his anger. He 
will have no connection with mortal men, for they have nicknamed 
him Duck-bill, because he has a nose of horn, like all men with us. 
Yet he is friendlily dispiosed towards thee, and sends thee this ring, 
with a great carbuncle in it, which will indicate to thee where all 
the treasures of the earth lie hid." 

With these words she put the jewel on his finger. The stone 
flashed like the rays of the sun, and when he turned it towards the 
ground, he saw in the depths below his feet veins of gold and 
silver, which ran through the earth like frozen brooks. 

" A wonderful sight," he said, " but I desire no other treasure 


than thee ; I am rich enough already for us two to live in peace 
and plenty." 

They had come to the shore of the lake, and after a hurried fare- 
well, she disappeared into the flood. 

Michael was a bold and fearless lad. If he got an idea into his 
head, nothing could get it out again. He would have liked to have 
had the water-king before him, that he might fell him to the 
ground. As this was not possible, however, he had to content 
himself with brooding on his way home over a plan by which he 
might bring the beautiful girl to fall in with his ideas. 

On the following day she came at the usual time, and was more 
beautiful and more friendly to him than ever. Towards evening 
he slunk away from the dancing-green and climbed up the church 
spire, and there put the hands of the clock a whole hour back. 
When he returned he hurled a young fellow away who was leading 
the lake-damsel to the dance, and carried her off himself, as though 
he would dance his life away. He did not become tired, and she 
too seemed of like mood ; the pipers grew blue in the face, the 
fiddlers' arms grew weary, but they dared not cease : he threat- 
ened as he rushed past them, he promised a threefold reward. 

At last the clock struck eleven. Then the maiden escaped from 
his arms, and started ofif for the wood. He followed her, and they 
had hardly gone a few paces when they heard the clock in a 
neighbouring village strike twelve. 

The maiden was horrified, and trembled in all her limbs. He 
told her what he had done, and vowed that she should be his that 
very night. Yet all his pressure, all his arguing, was in vain ; she 
only hurried her steps, weeping and lamenting. 

At length they stood on the bank of the watery mirror, over 
which the full moon played. It was in vain that he sought to 
hold her back ; she whispered only softly, — 

" Take heed what happeneth ; if a milk-white flood ariseth from 


the lake, I am saved, and will be thine ; but if a blood-stained 
one, then I am lost." 

Scarcely had she said these words than she sprang forward, 
and sank beneath the waters. Where she had disappeared a 
funnel-shaped cavity remained, from the edge of which wave-rings 
extended over the whole lake. 

Michael looked upon the surface of the water in breathless 
expectation, and now, now there rises up from the cavity not milk- 
white but a blood-red stream, and a cry strikes his ear, entering 
his heart like the thrust of a dagger. 

" Fiendish Neck ! " he cried. " Murderer of thy child ! take 
back thy magic ring, thou wicked Duck-bill ! " 

And he threw the jewel against a rock in the lake, so that it 
flew into a thousand pieces. 

As soon as the fragments touched the water it began to foam 
and bubble, as if a subterranean fire were causing it to seethe. It 
swelled and swelled, higher and higher, and in the middle a mon- 
strous crested wave rose frothing up. The lake heaved, and its 
depths raged fiercely. It overflowed its banks ; the monster wave 
bore the struggling youth along with it, in spite of his frantic 
efforts. Far and wide did the growing waters work devastation, 
and never were either the rich Michael or the Maiden of the Lake 
seen again. 

Like this story, there are very niimerous others, whose scenes 
are laid by springs, brooks, rivers, and lakes. They are told in 
England, Germany, in the Sclavonic, and in the Romance lands. 
Also from classic antiquity we have received the Naiads, River- 
gods, Sirens, etc. 

Another legend, very popular in Germany, we give, translated 
into verse. Every one who has travelled up the Rhine has been 
shown the Loreley Rock, and been told the superstitions con- 
nected with it. 



Unearthly music floats upon the air, 
The setting sun illumes th' impending crag, 

The silent fishers watch their lurking nets, 
Or from the deep their finny booty drag. 

That is the siren-song of Loreley ; 

In jewelled sheen she sits upon the height ; 
Swift o'er the lyre her magic fingers flit. 

Her golden hair gleams in a flood of light. 

See yonder bark by nervous arm impelled, 
So swiftly shooting down the glassy stream ! 

Anon it creeps, borne onwards by the tide, 
The youthful boatman rapt as in a dream. 

That strange, weird melody enchains his soul, 

Upon the oars his listless arms repose, 
Spell-bound he gazes on the dizzy height, 

With longings new and wild his bosom glows. 

More swiftly glides the bark, the rock is near, 
He sees the siren beckon from the height, 

Her song more thrilling, and more sweet her lyre, 
Her locks more golden in the golden light. 

The reef-rocks rise, alas ! he sees them not, 

Heeds not the warning shout from yonder shore, 

The startled echoes sound from crag to crag. 
But by that boatman they are ne'er heard more. 

The story of the " Old Man of the Sea " is perhaps a recollec- 
tion of the Northern Ogir, who, if not the king was at least 
the highest and greatest of the water spirits. 

Ogir, i.e. the Terribl e, lik e his brothers Kari, ruler of the air, a nd 
Logi, ruler of fir e, was a son of the old giant Forniot. Judging 
from the etymology of the word, he seems to be identical with the 
Grecian Okeanos, but possessing a more distinct personality, for 
the Greeks probably only knew the ocean from the stories of 
Phoenician sailors, while the Northern skippers boldly faced the 



mighty sea and its terrors in their weak vessels, which they called 
dragons or snakes. Dreadful Qgir was married to Bar, whojjike 
her^husband, used to drag men down into th e de ep and bu ry them 
in the sand, or who, according to other accounts, received the souls 
of those w ho died at sea , as He l did of th ose w ho died a " str aw 
death " o n land. They had nine daughters who afterw^ards became 
the mothers of Heimdal. The name of the Ogishelm, i.e. Helmet 
of Terror, comes from the King of the ocean. It was believed that 
the very sight of it filled the beholder with such terror that he 
would let his weapons fall as though he were paralyzed by magic 
art. The front of this helmet was adorned with a boar's head 
which yawned open-mouthed at the enemy. The Anglo-Saxons 
and Esthonians of the Baltic wore helmets of this sort, and the 
latter people believed that these head-pieces made the wearer either 
invisible or impervious to wounds. This reminds us of the dusk- 
cap in the Nibelungen Lay, whilst the boar's head puts us in mind 
of Freyer's Gullinbursti. The Ogishelm, judging from the forma- 
tion of the word and from its meaning, seems to have been iden- 
tical with the Ogis shield of Zeus, for this was by no means a goat's 
skin as people said later on, but was a weapon arousing feelings 
of terror. Zeus sometimes lent it to his son Apollo, who showed 
it to the enemy and made them fly in fear. The shield of Pallas 
Athene with the Medusa's head had much the same effect. 

Ogir, the terrible king of the ocean, did not appear armed 
with the boar's helmet in the northern poems, but he must have 
worn it in the old days, the records of which are lost. He was 
milder of aspect than of yore, and although of giant race, he 
lived in friendship with the Ases. He was also represented as 
sitting on a rock, playing on a harp or a shell. No sooner was 
Ogir's music heard than the waves piled themselves mountain 
high, and flung themselves against each other with a wild roar, 
so that the earth trembled and the heavens threatened to split 



in twain. The vassals of Ogir were numerous, mermaids and 
sprits of all kinds were subject to him, and there are a great many- 
interesting tales regarding them in every land. The stories of 
the magical music of the Necks are probably founded on the 
melodious sounds made by the water when falling over rocks 
or by the waves of the sea when confined within some cavern, 
such as Fingal's cave, etc. Nixies also sought the love of man, 
for thus and thus alone could they obtain the object of their 
desire, a loving immortal soul. The tragic turn which these 
stories generally take, almost seems to show that the possession 
of a soul waT not happiness. Fouqud's " Undine " is one of 
the most beautiful of these tales. 

Although the water spirits had no souls, they yet were filled 
with a longing for redemption and resurrection. There is a 
Christian tale which is a good illustration of this idea. Two 
children were once playing upon the sea-shore. A merry Neck 
was seated on a rock in front of them surrounded by water, and 
as he sat, he played on his harp so cheerily that it seemed to 
the children as if the very waves were dancing to his tune. 

Then the elder boy called out to him jestingly : " Play on, 
merry sprite, play on ; thou hast no hope of redemption or of 

" No hope ! " wailed the Neck, beginning to play such sad 
music out of his sorrowful heart that the waves ceased to dance 
and the children felt quite miserable. 

They went home and told their father, who was a Christian 
priest, what had happened. He chid them for their forwardness, 
bade them at once return to the Neck and tell him that there 
was hope of redemption and resurrection for him, for the Saviour 
had said : " I am not come into the world to judge the world, 
but that the world through me might be saved." 

The boys did as their father told them. They found the Neck 



still weeping bitterly. But when he heard the message of glad 
tidings, he smiled through his tears and touched the strings of 
his harp making them play mighty chords, and it seemed as 
though the heavenly hosts were singing to the music. 

" The Saviour did not come to judge the world, but that the 
world through Him might be saved." 

In this simple legend we see the triumph of Christianity over 
heathenism. It is sad that this aspect of Christianity is not 
always recognised by those who are called upon to teach its 
principles. But Charlemagne's Saxon war, the Inquisition, and 
other more recent events show how much the fundamental idea 
of its teaching has been misunderstood. 



_T_T_E stood with his- peasar t t wife and his two sons on the 
-^ -*■ household hearth, and prayed to Odin that he would take 
under his protection their eldest boy, whom the monster had 

Hardly had the prayer been offered up, when the king of 
the Ases stood in the hall, and promised to hide the boy 
securely, and to bring him back to them unharmed. 

At his command the corn grew up in the night over many a 
wide acre, so quickly that it was ready for harvesting. In the 
middle of the field, he hid the boy, in a grain of an ear of corn. 
But in the morning the giant stood in the field, and with his 
sharp sword mowed down the corn. He shook with all liis force 
the ears, and lo ! there fell at last into his hand the very grain 
which hid the boy. In his need, he called to Odin, and the 
mighty god removed him from all danger, and took him back 
to his parents, who were in great care about him. 

"I have fulfilled my promise," he said, "more ye must not 
demand of me." 

With these words he disappeared ; but the peasant and his 


wife were not yet free from care, for the giant stood threaten- 
ing in a neighbouring field, and was now coming towards the 
house, where he scented his victim. 

They prayed Honj r that he might guard their darling from 
the monster; the beneficent god did not tarry; he took the 
boy with him into the greenwood, where immediately two 
silvery swans settled down before him, and he hid his little 
charge in the form of a feather of down in the neck of one of 

However, the giant, who was called Skrymsli, strode onwards 
to the greenwood ; he was powerful in magic, and enchanted 
the right swan to him, and bit his neck off. Yet the feather 
of d own was wafted from his mouth, and Honir caught Jt_jag, 
and carri ed the terrified boy back to his anxjous parents. 

The peasant and his wife now called to Loki for his help 
in their need ; for they saw the giant coming with angry strides 
out of the wood. The god appeared at once, took the boy 
to the strand, and rowed with him far out to sea. And he angled 
and caught three large flounders. 

After he had hidden the boy as the tinest egg in the roe 
of one of them, he threw the fishes overboard, and turned again 
towards land. Here he saw with astonishment, that Skrymsli 
had prepared his boat to go out fishing ; he got into it with 
the giant, and sought, but all in vain, to put a stop to the 
voyage ; the vessel flew on, driven by the powerful strokes of 
the giant, hurrying over the sound into the open sea, where 
the boatman sank his angle and stone into the water. He 
caught at once three flounders, and amongst them the desired 

" Give me that poor little fish," asked Loki insinuatingly. 

" Hast thou an appetite then. Gaffer, hey ? " snarled the 
giant ; " thou wilt have to wait a long time I fancy ! " 



Thereupon he took the flounder between his knees, and 
counted every egg in the roe, until he found the one he 
wanted. But with a dexterous finger Loki snatched it up, and 
told the boy, when they reached the land, to spring with a light 
foot over the sand towards home. 

SkrymsH saw the boy running, and hastened after him, but 
with every step he sank knee-deep into the sand. He found 
the door of the house shut ; when he threw himself against it 
with great force, it broke in two; but, springing forwards, he 
ran his head into an iron pole. Loki was at once at hand, and 
cut off one of his legs, and then the other ; and so the monster 
died ; and his body covered the field. 

The peasant and his wife brought thank-offerings to the god 
Loki, for their darling, whom the other gods had only hidden a 
short time, and who now rested safely in their arms. 

The above story is still told on the Faroe Islands, and in 
fuller detail than we have been enabled to give it. It shows 
us an important fact, that Loki was not al ways look ed upon 
as the principle of evil, as the enemy of gods and men. 

Originally he was the god of the indispensable household 
fire, the god of the beneficent, kindly hearth ; therefore he 
regularly appears in the trinity : thus the sons of the primeval 
giant Ymir were called Kari (air), Ogir or Hler (water), and 
Logi (fire) ; and similarly on the creation of mankind the trinity 
appears, Odin, Honir and Lodur. Loki also accompanied Odin 
and Honir on their travels to the giant Thiassi. 
_ The father of Loki was Farbauti and his mother was Laufey 
(leafy isle). The former was probably the same as Bergel- 
mir, the giant who escaped drowning in the Deluge by taking 
refuge in a boat, as another name for his mother was Nal, 
ship. Logi, the element of fire, was distinctly separated from 
Loki, for we saw that when in the halls of Skyrnir or Utgard- 


Loki, the two were rivals in a wager as to which could consume 
the greater quantity of food in a given time. At first Loki was 
held in high honour as the giver of warmth and god of the 
domestic hearth, and was looked upon as the brother of Odin 
and Honir, for the elements air, water and fire are intimately- 
connected. He therefore belonged to the Ases, sat in their 
council, and often helped them out of diflSculties by means of 
his cunning. As fire is not always the friend of man, but is 
also the element of destruction, the Loki of the myth dev eloped 
ever more a nd mor e the dark s ide of h is c haracter. He showed 
himself as a cunning adviser, a false, traitorous comrade, and 
lastly as the murderer of all that was pure and holy. He de- 
stroyed innocence and righteousness, became the blasphemer of 
the Ases or their evil conscience ; and although he received 
immediate punishment for his wickedness, he yet succeeded in 
bringing about the universal destruction. 

The name Loki has been derived from the old word " liuhan," 
to enlighten. It therefore has the same origin as the Latin lux, 
light. Thus he was also related to Lucifer (light-bringer), a 
title of honour which was given to the Prince of Darkness. In 
like manner as the northern tempter was chained to a sharp 
rock, Lucifer was believed in the middle ages to be chained 
down in hell. Saxo Grammaticus describes his Utgarthlocus 
(Utgard-Loki) as laden with chains in Helheim, which proves 
that the myth of Loki and his punishment was believed long 
after the Christian era. 

As has been said before, Loki had three wicked children by 
the giantess Angurboda (bringer of anguish), Fenris, Hel and 
Jormungander. But he also had a lawful wife, the faithful 
Sigyn, who brought him two sons. Wall and Narwi, and who 
remained with him during all the misery his punishment brought 
upon him. He had no servants or subjects, for the Salamanders 


or Fire-spirits which played a part in Roman and Oriental 
mythology were unknown in the north. But he had other mighty 
relations, namely Surtur of the Flaming Sword and the sons of 
Muspel, who helped him in the Last Battle when he had got rid 
of his bonds. The Dwarfs and Black-Elves that needed fire for 
their labours were in alliance with him, but were not subserv- 
ient to him ; indeed, as we have already seen, they were often 
his enemies. 





' I ^HE duel was over, Ases and Einheriar were seated in Wal- 
-*- halla emptying horns of foaming mead. Steps were heard 
approaching, and Widar came in, receiving a joyful greeting from 

" Hail, Widar," said Bragi, the divine singer, and Hermodur, 
the bright herald of the gods, " hail, Widar, thou strong protection, 
thou help in every time of danger ! Receive with this greeting the 
golden drink which beseems thee." 

He thanked them and drank. He looked very grave, and spoke 
but little. Then Odin made him a sign to approach, and as he 
walked up the hall, he looked great and noble in their eyes ; his 
broad sword clanked at his side, and the sound made by the iron 
shoe on his right foot rang musically through the immeasurable 

" Widar, my silent son," said the Father of the gods, " in the 
time to come thou shalt be Avenger, Victor and Restorer. Come, 
follow me to the well of Mimir, that we may look into its depths 
and see what is hidden from gods and men." 

And now the god of armies rose and went away followed by 


Widar the Silent. They crossed the Homes to Mimir's Well. 
There sat the three Fatal Sisters, and there the swans floated 
noiselessly on their circling course. 

Odin demanded a word of wisdom from the Norns. 

Then they answered one after the other : 

"Early begun!" 

" Further spun." 

"One day done!" 

And Wurd said in conclusion : 

" With joy once more won ! " 

After that the sisters rose and spoke together : " The circling 
ages roll on and change. Past and Future, passing and beginning 
again, thus the ends of existence meet. If the Father falls on 
the field of Wigrid, he reappears in Widar, the Avenger, the 
Victor, new-born in the halls of blessedness." 

When the Norns had finished, the leaves of the World-Tree 
rustled melodiously, the eagle on its topmost bough sang aloud 
some song of storm or of victory, flapping its wings the while, and 
the dragon Nidhogg looked up, and forgot to gnaw the roots of the 

Meantime another witness had approached : it was Grid, the 
Giantess, the mother of Widar, who had lent Thor her girdle, 
gloves and staff of strength when he was about to find the river 
Wimur on his way to Geirod's-Gard. 

"Happy mother!" said Odin solemnly, "who was once wedded 
to me, thou also shalt rise again in thy son when the battle has 
been fought out on the field of Wigrid and Surtur's flames have 
been extinguished." 

All three, their hearts filled with gladness, looked up at Yggdrasil, 
the holy ash-tree, the leaves of which rustled melodiously, while all 
creatures around were silent, as though they were listening to some 
wondrous music which told, not of death, but of eternal change. 


Widar went home through the long green grass and bushes that 
never faded. He soon reached Landwidi, the house hidden in the 
wood. He ascended his throne, twined with green garlands, and 
sat there, silent as ever, thinking over the riddle of life. When and 
how did the immeasurable come into being .' Why does it go on ? 
' How and when will it end .' These are questions which the wise 
of all ages have puzzled over, and which they have tried to solve 
in divers ways, but without satisfying themselves, because there 
are limits- set here to the inquiring mind. They only find words 
which they cannot explain, cannot understand : Eternal, Everlast- 
ing, Immeasurable. How grand and glorious it sounds, and yet 
the finite mind can have no conception of that yawning gulf with- 
out beginning and without end ! The childlike faith alone, that 
had its rise with the star of Bethlehem, like the beautiful dawn of 
a new day, gives peace to the soul that thirsts after truth. For 
"although everything circles in eternal change, yet even in that 
change is preserved a quiet mind." 

The myth does not inform us whether the silent Ase found a 
solution to the riddle, for, as we have seen, he was silent as the 
the grave ; but he went forth boldly to the battle on the field of 
Wigrid, trusting to what the Norns and his father had told him. 
In this god we see an emblem of the inexhaustible power of Nature 
in making ever new shoots and flowers spring from what had 
grown old and faded. 


Odin, king of the Ases, was sitting, on Hlidskialf weighing all 
past and future events. He saw blood flowing, noble blood ; but 
all that was to come to pass looked indistinct and misty, like the 
sea in a fog, and the Norns had been silent when he questioned 


His son, Hermodur, the bright herald of the gods, was standing 
before him, ready to be sent to make known his decrees to the 
people. The king signed to the Walkyries, who at once brought 
helmet and coat of mail, spear and shield, and armed the brave 
warrior for the battle. 

" Up, my son," said the king, " saddle the good horse Sleipnir, 
and ride along the wind-cold roads, over frozen lakes and rivers 
and mountains, till thou com est to the land of the wild Finns. 
There in a gloomy dwelling amongst the fens shalt thou And the 
robber Rosstioph (horse thief), who entices travellers to come to 
him by magic art, binds them with enchanted bonds, murders 
them, and, after having robbed them, casts them] into the sea. He 
knows what" will happen in future times ; force him with the Runic 
staff to tell thee what will come to pass." 

Then Hermodur laid aside his spear and seized Gambantrin, the 
magic staff, instead. He saddled good Sleipnir, and hastened 
away to the land of the Finns, where Rosstioph lived in a gloomy 
dwelling amongst the fens. 

The robber saw the storm-compelling rider at a distance. He 
used his magic arts to induce him to approach, and laid invisible 
snares for him. Hermodur saw ghost-like airy monsters trying to 
clutch at him with teeth and claws, but he beat them back with 
his staff, and Sleipnir leapt over all the magic traps. When the 
robber attacked him in giant form, Hermodur felled him with his 
club, and bound him hand and foot with his own cords, tying his 
throat so tight that he groaned out his readiness to tell what 
Hermodur wished to know. 

So the Ase let him go, and he immediately began his terrible 
incantations. The sun lost its brightness and hid her face behind 
dark clouds ; the earth shook to her foundations ; the storm-wind 
shrieked, calling td mind now the howling of wolves, and now of 
the moans and groans of dying men. 


" See there," cried the Finn, pointing over at the fen, " the 
answer to thy question is rising even at this very moment." 

The Ase saw a stream of blood flowing that reddened the whole 
ground. Then a beautiful woman appeared, and afterwards a little 
boy rose close beside her ; he grew in one night, and was armed 
with a bow and arrows. 

" The king of the Ases shall offer his love to Rinda in the land 
of the Ruthenes, and she shall bear him a son who will avenge 
his brother's death." 

Rosstioph ceased, and Hermodur returned to AUfather and told 
him all that he had heard and seen. 

Hermodur went on many other errands for Odin, and as these 
errands were often of a warlike nature, he was perhaps regarded as 
a sword-god ; indeed, he was supposed to be connected with the 
universal god Irmin, or Hermon. Amongst the Anglo-Saxons, on 
the other hand, he was looked upon as identical with dark Hodur, 
the Ase who brought the greatest misery upon Asgard. 


Wall or AH was the son of Odin and Rinda, who, as Rosstioph 
prophesied, should one day avenge the death of Baldur. We shall 
meet with this god again when we treat of the beautiful poem of 
Baldur's death, and will therefore merely remark in this place that 
Rinda means the rind, the hard-frozen crust of the earth, whose 
favour the god of heaven long woos in vain, in like manner as the 
cold of winter takes a long time ere it gives way before the warmth 
of spring, and it is only when summer's magic wand is brought 
in requisition that the victory is complete. Thus the god tries in 
vain to teach her that mild weather is the time for warlike deeds. 
He offers her shining garlands of flowers and golden ears of corn, 


but all to no purpose. He is at length obliged to use his divine 
power before he can force her to marry him. Her son is called 
Wali or Ali in the Edda ; according to Saxo, the Danish historian, 
he is Bous, or Bui, also Beav, i.e. the peasant, who, after the victory 
of the god of heaven, comes out of his dark hut and resumes his 
labour of tilling the earth. 

The myth of Wali has, to a considerable extent, passed into the 
Hero-lays. We will now give one of the tales which owed their 
origin to this source. 

Once upon a time many people were assembled on the sea- 
shore in the land of the Angles and not far from Schleswig. 
They were watching a small vessel sailing over the crested waves 
towards them. A gentle breeze filled out the white sails, but 
neither helm nor helmsman, nor yet sailors were to be seen. 
Bound to the mast-head was a shield, bright as the sun, though 
not blood-red, which would have betokened the arrival of an 

The little vessel rounded the promontory at the mouth of 
the harbour as cleverly as though a good pilot had been on board, 
and made straight for the land. The people now saw a little 
new-born child lying on a sheaf of corn (Schof, Skeaf) on the 
deck, with ornaments of gold, silver and precious stones scattered 
about it. The boy sat up and looked at the surrounding people 
so lovingly that all with one voice exclaimed : 

" He is the child of some god ; we will take him and bring him 
up, and he shall be our king." 

They did so, and the boy grew strong and active, soon got the 
better of his comrades in the lists, learnt to honour the laws and 
ordinances of the free people who had adopted him, and gained 
the hearts of all by his wisdom. 

When he had grown to be a man, the free people of the land 
raised him on a war-shield, and said : 



" Thou shalt be our king, for we shall be better off under thy 
rule than were we to remain a republic, and thou shalt be called 
Skeaf, because thou didst come to us lying upon a sheaf." 

The new king governed the land wisely and justly, and the 
favour of the gods was with him, so that the harvests were plen- 
teous and the country visibly prospered. His judgments filled the 
people with admiration, whether given in the law-courts or in the 
assembly ; therefore he was loved and honoured as a father. His 
fame spread over every land, and kings of foreign nations made 
him umpire in their disputes. No neighbouring people ventured 
to declare war upon him, nor was any Wiking-raid made upon 
his coasts. His subjects enjoyed peace and security of life and 

At length the time came for him to leave the world, and he 
desired his faithful friends to lay him once more on the sheaf of 
corn in the little vessel and scatter about him the jewels he had 
brought with him, that he might return to the place whence he 

The corpse of the king, its head crowned with flowers, was 
placed on a sheaf in the little vessel, and all the ornaments he had 
brought with him were placed about him as before. Then a gentle 
breeze arose and wafted the ship far away to the Home of the 
Light-Elves, the land of spirits, from which Skeaf had been sent 
when a child. Meanwhile his faithful friends stood on the shore 
for a long time weeping for the loss of their good king, as men 
always weep when a dear friend leaves them. 

Before his departure Skeaf had promised his sorrowing people 
that he would send his son from the happy home to rule over this 
kingdom, and, as we learn from Danish and Anglo-Saxon tradi- 
tions, he kept his word. His son, however, did not come to the 
Angles, but to the warlike Danes. 



Baldur was bright and beautiful, and a radiance like that of the 
sun proceeded f rom him. The camomile flower was called Bal- 
dur's eye-brow, because of its bright purity. Kindness, innocence 
and righteousness were the qualities by which he w as known, and 
he could win every heart by the eloquence of hi s words . In his 
palace, Breidablick, nothing impure, nothing evil could ever take 
place, nor could any injustice be done. It was a holy house. 

The wife of Baldur the Beloved was Nanna, daughter of Nep, 
according to Uhland, Blossom, daughter of the Bud. She also 
was the joy of gods and men, and loved her husband ever after 
his death . 

In one tale Nanna was the daughter of King Gewar of Nor- 
way, and Hodur was her foster-brother. They were brought up 
together by Gewar. Once, when returning home from the marriage 
of his friend King Helgi of Heligoland to Princess Thora of Finn- 
land, Hodur lost his way in a fog, and whi le try ing t o find it ag ain, 
came to the dwelling of three wood-spirits, who greeted him by his 
name, and gave him a suit of armour, adding that he must beware 
of Baldur, son of Odin, and that he should first have victory, but 
should afterwards be defeated. 

When he got home he found that Baldur had seen Nanna, had 
fallen in love with her, and had asked her hand in marriage. The 
king had then replied that there could be no real bond between 
Ases and mortals, and Baldur had gone away threatening ven- 

On hearing this, Hodur said that he was not afraid of the Ase, 
and entreated Gewar to give him Nanna to wife. The king 
answered that he loved his foster-son, but that Baldur was in- 
vincible ; if, however, Hodur could manage to gain possession of 


the magic sword of Mimring, the wood-demon, he might marry 
Nanna, as the odds would not be then so great in the Ase's favour. 

After infinite trouble and danger, Hodur succeeded in conquer- 
ing the Hrimthurse and in carrying off his sword and a wonderful 
bracelet, the thickness of whose gold increased every night. 

The fame of this deed, and of the magic sword and bracelet, 
spread through every land. Geldar, Duke of Saxony, heard of 
it, and trusting in his men and ships, set out to try and gain posses- 
sion of the treasures. Hodur sailed out to sea to meet him in battle 
array. Before any mischief was done, Geldar hoisted the white shield 
of peace, as a sign that he wished to treat with the Norwegians. 
After a short parley, Geldar and Hodur concluded terms of peace, 
and entered into alliance with each other. While they were feast- 

(ing together, news came that Baldur was sailing up to give them 
battle and carry away beautiful Nanna. They hastened to her 
defence, and on the way were joined by Helgi. 

There was a terrible battle, and Mimring's sword flashed like 
lightning in Hodur's hand. Hodur threw himself into the thick of 
the fight, and his coat of mail, which had been given him by 
the wood-spirits, kept him safe and sound. Man after man fell 
dead under his blows. But the Ases, with strong Thor, were 
amongst his opponents, and Geldar and many more were slain 
by them. After a desperate struggle, Hodur succeeded in disarm- 
ing Thor. No sooner was this the case than terror seized the 
.enemy, and Ases and warriors fled pell-mell. Even Baldur for- 
Isook the field in 'cowardly fashion. Hodur then commanded that 
a great funeral pile should be erected for friend and foe, but chief 
of all, he placed the corpse of his faithful brother-in-arms, Geldar, 
the Duke of Saxony, to whom a grave mound was built. Hodur 
now pursued his victory and conquered Denmark and Sweden. 

According to other versions, Hodur was already King of Denmark, 
and the battle took place near Roesfild in Zealand, where 


Baldur's well, Baldur's haven, and Baldur's sound (the Baltic Sea), 
still remind us of the circumstance. The Danish rhymed chronicle 
indeed informs us that Baldur was killed here and was buried in the 

We see from this how the myths of Baldur and Hodur have been 
formed by story-tellers and poets, and if these now given are much 
more modern in their origin, they still give the battle between 
summer and winter, in which the god of winter has the victory at 
the end of autumn. 

After this battle Hodur married Nanna, and they spent a happy 
winter together. 

When spring returned, Baldur once more raised his head, and 
was filled with new courage. He again prepared to fight for the 
lovely Nanna. 

The battle raged night and day, and Hodur got the worst of 
it, in spite of Mimring's magic sword. He had at length to fly 
to Jutland and wait there till he had collected a new army. 

One day, as he was wandering in a wood, he saw the three wood- 
spirits who had given him the coat of mail. He now recognised 
them to be Walkyries by their white horses and armour. He re- 
proached them for having prophesied good fortune when he had had 
evil fortune. But they replied : " First victory, then defeat, was what 
we promised. But now the time of good fortune is returning to thee. 
If thou canst only get hold of some of the food which increases thine 
enemy's Ase strength, thou mayest yet wound his sacred body with. 
Mimring's sword. Three women wrapped in the garments of 
night, their heads hidden under dark veils, prepare and bring him 
this strengthening food." 

No sooner had they spoken these words than they and their 
dwelling vanished from before his eyes. 

The hero stood alone in the dark pine-wood ; his heart filled 
with new hope. He went down into the valley and called upon 


his faithful followers to rally around him, and they came in 
crowds. He soon found himself at the head of a large army, 
and when he went to seek out his foe, he found him ready to 
receive him. Baldur was still dissatisfied in spite of his victory, 
for he had not gained the lovely Nanna, he had not been able 
to carry her away, to her natural home the sunny south. 

The battle lasted, as before, all day, and only ceased when it 
was too dark to see to fight, Hodur could not sleep, so he got 
up in the third night-watch and set out to see what was going 
on in the enemy's camp. All at once he saw three women 
dressed in garments of night, and with their faces hidden under 
dark veils, walking rapidly through the wood. He followed 
them and entered their house after them. He pretended to be 
a great skald. A harp was given him and he played marvel- 
lous airs. While doing this he watched the women preparing 
some gruel, and saw how they held snakes over it, making 
them breathe into it after it was finished. 

" That must be the food that increases Baldur's Ase strength," 
he thought, so he asked for some as payment for his music. 
The women consulted together; one refused, but the others 
were of opinion that it could do no harm to give the stranger 
what he asked, maintaining that it would only make him a 
better skald than before. They therefore granted his request. 

He swallowed the plateful given him as rapidly as possible, 
and immediately he felt an unusual strength in all his limbs ; 
he felt as if he could have challenged all the Ases to battle, he 
was so strong. 

The women sought vainly to prevent the skald leaving them. 
He rushed out into the open air and found that a bitterly cold 
north-wind was blowing. As he was hastening along in the dim 
grey morning light, he unexpectedly met his deadly enemy, 
Tiiey at once prepared to fight Each thought only of attack, 


neither of defence ; the one was protected by his coat of mail 
the other by his divinity ; but at le ngth Baldur recei ved a 
terrible blow on h is hip, a nd Mimring's sword passed through 
his body . Hodur hastened to the camp, Told his people what 
had happened, and led them on to battle. 

Meanwhile, Baldur was only wounded, and not dead as Hodur 
had supposed. He had himself laid upon a stretcher and carried 
into the dreadful battle, which raged undecided until night-fall. 
In the night dark Hel approached his couch. She told him 
that he should enter her realm on the following day, and that 
she had a feast ready to greet his arrival. Her prophecy was 

Baldur's sorrowing followers buried him with royal honours 
under a mighty mound, which the gods consecrated and pro- 
tected by miraculous signs. 

Hodur regained possession of his kingdom, but he never re- 
turned to his beloved Nanna, for Bous (Bui = peasant), son of Odin 
and Rinda, took the field against him in the following spring 
and slew him in the fight, for he had lost the coat of mail 
given him by the wood-spirits and had vainly sought for the 
women in the garments of night, to beg them to give him some 
of their magic food. 

I We recognise the natural myth of the struggle between light 
(and darkness, summer and winter, in this story. Moreover, 
Gewar means spring (from war, Latin, ver), and he was the father 
of Nanna, blossom. In this tale the original signification of the 
myth had been forgotten. The songs of the Edda regarding 
Baldur were almost entirely concerned about the death of the 
god of light and the love his wife bore him, about the changes 
of the seasons and the coming of Ragnarolt 



In the land of the Friesians twelve men, well known for their 
wisdom and righteousness, were chosen as judges in the oMen 
time. These men, who were called Asegen, i.e. Elders, went 
about from one district to another throughout the country decid- 
ing difficult questions and settling disputes according to the 
ancient laws and privileges. It was always said that it was 
from Fosite, Baldur's son, that the Friesians and their first Elders 
had learnt the laws by which the country was governed. The 
place where he had taught them these righteous ordinances was 
an island, which is now known as Heligoland or holy land, 
whose skippers even yet show their Friesian descent in their 
muscular and active forms. 

According to the northern myth, Forseti was the son of Baldur 
and Nanna; for righteousness, whose representative Forseti was, 
proceeds from clearness of judgment and immaculate purity. He 
used to sit all day long in his hall Glitnir, whose silver roof rests 
upon golden pillars, and settle all disputes and differences of 
opinion. As he was only, as it were, an attribute of his father 
personified, he seems to have vanished with him from the worlds of 
Ases and men, after which the Wolf's time of power began, and 
immoral, evil forces gained ever more and more the upper hand, 
until at length Ragnarok, the Judgment of the gods, began and 
the drama of the northern faith came to a close. 



,S\\^ ... 




*" I ^HE poems of the skalds 
tt'^'*^ -^ tell us of the Golden Age, 
\.t"' that happy time of child-like 

Innocence. No human being lived then on the green earth, which 
was inhabited by the Ases, who dwelt there without restrictions 
of any kind, or any longing after the unattainable. They had no 
past dimmed with tears, no difficulties in the present, nor did 


the future threaten them with a grievous doom. They lived 
for days and years in untroubled joy. They laid up stores of 
food, made hammers, tongs, anvils and tools of all kinds for 
themselves. They forged metals and carved wood, and what- 
ever they did was beautiful to look upon. They had so much 
gold that they used it for making their household utensils. Still 
they did not know the value of the metal, and only liked it 
because it was bright and pleasant to look upon. They called 
this happy time the Golden Age, because life was then without 
care or sorrow, and not because of their wealth. They built 
houses and holy-places for themselves ; they played merry 
games with golden disks in the court-yard and on the Field of 
Ida. They felt neither love of money nor desire of gain, nor yet 
did they ever wish to do themselves good to the injury oi others. 

Then they jestingly created the numerous race of Dwarfs, who 
burrowed in the earth and brought its hidden treasures forth to the 
light of day. The Ases looked covetously at the glittering hoard, 
and then the Golden Age, the time of innocence, passed away. 

After that Gullweig (golden step), the wicked enchantress, was 
born. Three times the Ases thrust her into the smelting-pot, and 
each time she rose again more wondrously entrancing than 
before, so that their whole souls were filled with covetousness 
and other evil desires. 


Gullweig was probably the cause of the first war, the war be- 

I tweenthe Ases and Wanes. She glided about from one camp to 

the other stirring up dissension. But fortunately peace was soon 

concluded. The eyes of the gods were now opened, so that they 

perceived the danger that threatened them. They saw the Moun- 


tain-Giants and Hrimthurses far away over in Jotunheim, saw how 
they had increased in numbers, how they had already made good 
their entrance into Midgard, and were looking threateningly up at 
beautiful Asgard, with its palaces, perfumed groves and flowery 

Heimdal was a faithful watchman, but still the Ases feared lest 
he should be' taken unawares. So they assembled in their hall of 
judgment, and took counsel together how best they might ensure 
their safety. It seemed to them that their surest plan would be 
to build a wall round Asgard, reaching to the skies, in which strong 
doors should be placed. 

While they were consulting as to the best way of carrying out 
their plan, a tall, stately man, with a disagreeable expression ot 
countenance, came up and offered to complete the wall, without 
help from any one, in three winters. He said that he was a smith, 
a very skilful man, and that he thoroughly understood the art of 
building. In payment for his work he demanded that divine 
Freya should be given him to wife, and -that he should also have 
the sun and moon awarded him, as they would make such good 
lights for him to work by. The Ases were undetermined ; but 
Loki, the arch-scoundrel, whispered in their ears that they should 
promise to grant the builder's request on condition that he finished 
the work in the course of one winter. The man consented to these 
terms, saying that he would wager his head he could finish the 
work within the appointed time, if he were allowed to have the 
help of his horse Swadilfari. Again the Ases hesitated, but Loki 
strongly urged that they should consent, as an unreasoning animal 
could not be of much use. 

So the bargain was concluded, and each party swore holy oaths 
by dark Hel, by the Leipter Flood and the primaeval icebergs, that 
the conditions made on either side should be fulfilled faithfully and 


The work was begun on the first day of winter. The Ases saw 
what monstrous loads of rocks and stones the builder's horse carried, 
swift as the wind, wherever his master desired. The wall grew 
apace, and was strong and solid as an iceberg. It was as smooth 
and shining as polished steel, and at the end of winter it was nearly 

The great gate of the fortress was now alone to be made, and 
that could be easily done in the three days that were still to elapse 
before the beginning of summer. 

' The Ases consulted together in their distress, for if the smith 
I were to carry Freya and the sun and moon away with him in 
payment for his work, beauty and sweetness would vanish from 
Asgard, and eternal night would overwhelm the world. 

Many of the gods longed for the presence of strong Thor, who 
had been far away waging war on monsters of all kinds when the 
contract was made with the smith, and who had not yet returned. 
They seated themselves on their thrones of judgment, and tried to 
find a way out of their difficulty. They asked each other who it 
was that had advised them to conclude the bargain with the smith. 
Every one knew that it was the author of all evil — false, treacherous 
Loki. Then they all crowded round him accusing and threatening 

" Let him die a shameful death," they cried, " if he does not 
help us out of our difficulty." 

Loki tremblingly promised, with a holy oath, that he would 
prevent the builder finishing the wall, and would thus deprive him 
of his reward. 

The next day, when the smith went to the mountains with 
Swadilfari, to fetch stones and wood for his work, a mare galloped 
towards them whinnying. Immediately the horse rushed to meet 
her, kicking the cart and harness in pieces. He followed the flying 
mare through wood and meadow, pursued by the breathless smith. 


The pursuit lasted the whole day and night, and when the builder 
at length succeeded in catching his horse they were both so ex- 
hausted that they could do nothing next day. 

That -evening, as the man stood looking at the wall which he 
knew he could not now finish in time, a giant's rage came over him. 
He accused the Ases of being false perjured gods, who had deprived 
him of his just reward by cunning and by treachery. He threatened 
to make himself master of Asgard by force, and lifted huge rocks 
and trunks of trees with which to destroy the place and its inhabi- 
tants. And now the Ases perceived that he was a giant, and that 
they had allowed one of their deadly enemies to enter their holy 
city. They cried aloud for strong Thor to come and defend them 
against the giant. 

A thunder clap was heard, a flash of lightning lit up the dark- 
ness, the earth trembled, and Thor was standing between the Ases 
and the enraged giant. He at once recognised the Hrimthurse, 
flung Miolnir and broke the giant's skull, which was as hard as a 
stone, and bits of it went flying in all directions. The black soul 
of the monster sank into Nifelhel, which was its proper habita- 

In course of time the mare that had enticed Swadilfari from his 
work had an eight-legged foal, and this foal was Sleipnir, which 
when it was grown became Odin's horse, and used to bear the 
Father of the gods swift as the wind through the air and over the 
waves of the sea. But the Ases had sinned, they had brok en their 
oa th ; for they had sworn to fulfil the contract they h ad made 
wit h the smith withou t trickery o f any kind, and the Jotun had 
justly charged them with perjury. Their tempter was Loki, and 
he it was who in the form of the mare had enticed Swadilfari 
away from his work, and had thus prevented the completion of the 



Fair Iduna had made herself an airy dwelling amongst the 
green branches of the world-tree Yggdrasil. There she received 
her beloved husband, Bragi, every evening, and he rejoiced her 
heart with his songs. The woodland birds joined their singing 
to his, and the music they made was so sweet that even the 
grave Norns were touched by it. 

When all living things were sunk in sleep, the goddess sprinkled 
the ash from the well into which the divine mead had flowed 
that had been brought there by Odin, and so the World-tree 
remained fresh and green. The well, like the mead, was called 
Odrorir, and was that draught of inspiration which Gunlod had 
once kept hidden in a mountain, but which Odin had rescued 
for the needs of gods and men. Like Iduna's apples, it had the 
power of making all who tasted it younger and more beautiful, and 
was identical with the fountain of Urd, with the water of which 
the Norns sprinkled Yggdrasil. Unnumbered years passed away ; 
the World-tree flourished and remained young and strong as ever, 
thanks to the care of the Norns and Iduna ; Bragi sang to his 
wife and to the world ; but sin had defiled Ases and men, holy 
oaths were broken, truth, faith and the fear of God had disap- 
peared, murder' and war were everywhere to be seen ; then it 
was that the Destruction of the Universe came nearer, and the 
Wolf rattled his chains preparatory to breaking them. 

Now it happened about this time that one evening neither the 
songs of Bragi nor of the birds were to be heard, that the branches 
of Yggdrasil hung down sapless and withered, and that Odrorir 
seemed to have dried up. Next morning, when the Ases, terrified 
by these signs, asked for Iduna, they found that she had fallen 
from the tree down into the deep valleys below to the daughter of 


Norwi (night). The well was really dried up, and every green 
thing threatened to fade and wither. 

So Odin sent his raven, Hugin, away to find out the meaning of 
these portents of evil. Quick as thought the messenger flew 
through the wide heavens, and then sank down into the realm of 
the Dwarfs, Dain (dead) and Thrain (stiff), both of whom knew 
what should come to pass. But they were lying sunk in a heavy 
trance-like sleep, and in their sleep they moaned indistinctly some 
few words about coming horrors and flames. The Ases, therefore, 
knew not what to do, and watched all nature and Yggdrasil slowly 
fading and dying. They stretched a wolf-skin, white and soft as " 
the winter's snow, over the abyss where Iduna lay sorrowing, that 
she might no more see her happy home amongst the ash-boughs. 
The Father of the Gods sent Heimdal, the faithful watchman, 
cunning Loki, and sorrowful Bragi to question the fair goddess as 
to the future. The messengers, after passing innumerable were- 
wolves on their way, at last came to the place where Iduna was 
lying, pale and sad. They asked her eagerly what she could tell 
them of future events, but she only answered them with tears. 

Heimdal and Loki returned full of sorrow, but Bragi stayed 
with his wife, that she might not die of grief. After the . return of 
the messenger, the Ases consulted together as to what was to be 
done next. But they were all weary and much in need of rest, so 
the Father of the Ases dismissed the assembly until the morrow. 

Next morning, when Odin awoke, he found Frigga standing 
weeping by his bed. Her lips trembled as she told him that her 
son Baldur, the well-beloved, had dreamt that pale Hel had come 
to him and had signed to him to follow her. Then the mighty 
god arose in his strength. He had made up his mind what to do : 
he would seek intelligence of the realm of the dead ; he must 
know what was coming upon the world and the Ases. 

This is what we learn from the lay called "Odin's Magic Raven" 


(Hrafnagalder), which is a description of the beginning of autumn 
or early winter. Would the goddess Iduna rise again in spring 
and bring new life to the dead leaves and flowers, or was her 
departure a sign that the Last Battle was about to be fought, and 
that the flames of Surtur would soon begin their devastating work? 
These questions filled the minds of the Ases. 

One writer states that in his opinion the events mentioned in 
this poem refer to an unusual drought in Osning, and to the long 
cessation of the flow of the intermittent spring which, with other 
brooks, forms the Bullerborn, and which has never once dried up 
since 1630. Still, it must be remembered, while considering this 
interesting hypothesis, that a northern skald translated the origi- 
nal Saxon poem, or rather worked the idea of it out anew, and 
that as he did so he was filled with the thought that Iduna's 
departure, and the fading and dying of all nature, portended the 
approach of the Last Battle. 















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_j;^<v-' -:ri»-i * =i^(ifVi^ 

■"—*='*' "^^ 



" I "HE myth tells us that when Mother Night sank as usual 

-*- into Nifelhel, Day followed her looking bright and glorious. 
His golden-maned horse bore his glittering chariot across the 
heavens. But soon a grey mist rose and hid the shining equip- 
age. The sun looked down sadly upon Midgard and upon 
Asgard, as though through a thick veil, and seemed as if mourn- 
ing some dreadful catastrophe. A dense fog rested upon Breida- 
blick, so that its golden roofs and battlements were invisible. 
The gods and goddesses hastened to the assembly full of dismay 
a bout the departure of Iduna and Baldur's dreams . They shook 
and cast the runes, and those of death lay uppermost. Terror 
seized the Ases, but Odin rose in all his majesty and said : 

" I foresee only too clearly what is about to happen ; yet will 
I call up Wala from the realm of the dead, and she shall give 
me a sure answer to my questions as to what will come to 

Then he saddled Sleipnir and rode off" swift as an eagle, to 
the north towards Nifelheim. 

Meanwhile, the gods consulted together and proposed various 


plans. At last it seemed to them that the best thing they could 
do would_ be to make all_living creatureSj^^ and_even_by means 
of magic pow er f orce eve ry inanimate object, to swear to do 
noJiurttpJBaldur's holy body. 

Frigg, the anxious mother of the god of light, herself under- 
took the task. She went through every country as quickly as 
the sun passes over the sky. And all mortal men, the Hrim- 
thurses, the Light-Elves, the Water-sprites, and even the Black- 
Elves, that race which shuns the light, swore a solemn oath 
not to harm the Well-beloved. Tre^s and plants, stones and 
metals were also bound over to spare Baldur. 

Meanwhile, Odin rode through dark glens down to Nifelheim. 
A dog with gaping jaws came out to meet him from the king- 
dom of Hel, and as he came drops of blood fell from his jaws 
upon his neck and chest. He stood still and howled as the 
god rode past. Odin hastened to the eastern gate of the dark 
abode. There he found the mound of Wala who had long 
been dead. The Father of the Gods dismounted. He stood on 
the grave mound that was surmounted by a memorial stone, 
and began his incantation, the song that awakened the dead. 

" Awake, Wala, awake from thy death-sleep ! Arise from 
out the grave wherein thou hast rested so long ! Three times 
do I strike thy dwelling-place with my runic staflf that thou 
mayst know no more peace on thy bed of mould, until thou 
hast given me a true answer to my questions." 

He then struck the grave thrice with his mighty staff, and 
the ground shook, the stone sank down, the earth opened, and 
pale Wala arose wrapped in her shroud. 

" Who is it ?" she asked in a hollow voice, " that troubles my 
repose.' Snow has covered my bed, and the rains and dews, 
have watered it for many years. I have long been dead." 

Odin replied : " Wegtam (knower of the road) is my name, and 


I am the son of Waltam (knower of battles). Speak, for whom 
has Hel prepared the benches with rings and the golden 

She answered : " A shining gob let is standin^_readx_fo£ 
Baldu r the go od, whic h he must drink with HeL to the woe 
of the Ases . If I am forced to speak I must make known the 
coming evil ; grant me therefore silence." 

" Thou shalt not be silent ! " cried the god, '' until I know all 
tlaat I dimly foresee. Who is it t hat ^s to _send_the^ glorious 
son of the Father of Battles down to Hel's dismal abode.?." 

Then the prophetess said dejectedly: "The brother will send 
his brother there, the god of darkness will send the god of 

/light, Hodur will send the son of the Father of Battles down 
to the realm of Hel. Forced to speak, I have to make known 
the misfortune that was coming ; grant me now silence." 

The King of the Gods, who was accustomed to look future 
events in the face without fear, stood there drawn to his full 
height, and went on questioning Wala. He asked who was to 
avenge Baldur, and bring death upon the murderer. She told 
him that Odin would have a son by Rinda who would grow 
up in one night, who would not wash his hands nor comb his 
hair until he had brought the murderer to the funeral pyre. 
Then he asked the name of the woman who alone of all crea- 
tures would not weep for Baldur the well-beloved. 

" Thou art not Wegtam," she cried, " thou art Odin and 
knowest all things. Go home now to Asgard. Thou hast 
awakened the dead with thy mighty runes, and made her 
speak with thee. None other will disturb my slumber until 
Loki is free again and the gods are about to pass away." 

We have given this ghastly but beautiful poem almost in its 
entirety, and have only endeavoured to make some vague expres- 
sions somewhat clearer, and to smooth away a few discrepancies. 


The poet probably saw that the days were growing shorter, and 
that the sun scarcely showed above the horizon in the far North, 
while a cold frosty mist covered land and sea ; these were to him 
the signs of the approach of winter, of the death of the god of 
light. Odin had a foreboding of what was about to happen, but 
could only gain certain intelligence in the realm of the dead. So 
the poet let him descend there and question Wala who had long 
been dead. 

Joy had returned to the green home of the gods. Baldur's life 
seemed to be secure now that all animate and inanimate things 
had been bound by an oath to do him no harm. Who would hurt 
the darling, the light of the world .' The Ases laughed and 
jested, played with golden balls, shot arrows, fl ung spears and 
aimed blunt weapo ns at Ba ldur for f u n, a nd not one of these 
missiles str uck his holy body. It was as though an invisible power 
turned them aside as they approached him, for all, wood, metal 
and stones were sworn over to spare him. 

The Ases then tried sharp weapons, and to their delight found 
the result the same. Loud was the laughter when it was dis- 
covered that the best aimed blow of a sword did not touch him, 
that spears, stones and arrows missed him. 

Frigg heard the shouts and cheers as she sat in her golden halls 
of Fensaler, and longed to know what was the matter. At this 
moment an old woman limped past leaning on her crutch. The 
queen signed to her to enter, and asked her what was going on. The 
old woman immediately gave her a long description of what she 
had seen, ending by saying that Baldur was standing smiling in the 
midst of the hail of weapons looking as if they were only flowers 
with which he was being pelted. And Frigg's heart rejoiced within 
1 her as she thought of the strength of the Ases, and of how she 
\ had conquered the evil fate that was to have come upon her son. 

" Yes," she said, " everything that is in heaven and earth and 


under the earth swore willingly to do no hurt to the giver of light 
and joy, of growth and bloom." 

" Thou must have had hard work," said the old woman, " but of 
course thou didst not think it necessary to bind the grass and 
flowers and other harmless things with an oath ?" 

" No trouble was too great to take for our darling," answered the 
goddess, " and the only thing I passed over was the little plant of 
mistletoe growing on the great oak at the gate of Walhalla, and 
that really does not matter, it is so soft and so weak a thing that it 
could do no harm." 

" Thou art a careful mother," said the old woman ; " it would 
have been very unwise to have passed over the flowers, for in their 
perfume a deadly poison is often hid. But as for the mistletoe, 
that only grows and bears seed in the cold winter time, it could 
not hurt the god of light." 

With these words the old woman took leave of the queen, and 
continued her walk down the lonely road that led to Walhalla. 
When she reached the great oak at the gate on which the tiny 
plant of mistletoe grew, she threw off the woman's dress, and 
b ehold it was L dd,_loioking_more diabolicaLthan-^vetJ- Until now 
he had only rejoiced in the misfortunes of the Ases, and had done 
them injury now and then by his cunning, but had always been 
forced by their threats to help them out of the scrapes he had got 
them into ; now, however, envy and jealousy were driving him to 
commit a horrible crime. 

He drew circles, muttered many a magic spell, and touched the 
tiny mistletoe twig with the end of his crooked stick, and im- 
mediately it grew as long as the shaft of a spear. Then he tore it 
down from the tree, cut away the side branches and knots, and 
made it resemble a spear in every respect. 

" Thou seemest so young and weak," he said, with a scornful 
laugh, "let us see whether thou art not stronger than all the 


weapons of these foolish jesting Ases, stronger than that much be- 
praised and famous Baldur." 

He went to join the Ases, and found them still amusing them- 
selves as before. Strong Hodur was standing outside the circle, 
taking no part in the games. 

"Why art thou so lazy.'" asked Loki, "thou art the strong- 
est of all the Ases, so why dost thou not fling a spear in Baldur's 
honour ? " 

" I have no weapon, and I am blind," answered Hodur ; " night 
is all around me, before me and behind me." 

" Here is a spear for thee," said the tempter, putting the mistle- 
toe bough in his hand ; " I will direct it for thee ; now fling it 
with all thy might." 

Hodur did so, and — the sun lost its light, the earth quaked 
— the murder, the patricide was committed — Baldur lay stabbed 
to death on the ground, the blood flowing from his side on to 
the darkening earth. Breathless and silent the gods stood 
around ; they could not take in the monstrous, the terrible fact ; 
it almost seemed as if they themselves had received a death- 
wound. When they were able to move, some of them crowded 
round the corpse and watered it with their tears, while others 
asked eagerly who it was that had done the evil deed. 

" Dark Hodur threw the spear," was shouted on every side. 
; Friendless Hodur stood alone as ever in the midst of the excited 
Ases ; Loki had deserted him at once, as the tempter always 
I does, leaving his victim to bear his misery alone. 

Darkness surrounded the luckless Ase, and darkness reigned 
in his soul. He heard the curses and threats that echoed on 
every side, and the clash of the swords and spears that were 
turned against him. Suddenly Allfather appeared in the midst 
of the Ases, grave and calm, and in all his divine majesty. 
His own forebodings, and Wala's prophecy, had prepared him 


for what had happened. It was Orlog's will and neither gods 
nor men could do aught to hinder it. So he, the Father ot 
Heroes, bore his sorrow without cowardly complaint ; in spirit he 
saw the approach of Ragnarok and was determined to fight the 
hopeless battle to the end, for even mortal heroes do not let the 
sword fall from their dying hands until their last strength is 
exhausted. He commanded his people to cease their clamorous 
woe, to raise the corpse of the Well-beloved, to dress it in clean 
garments, and prepare the funeral pyre. 

Then came Frigg, Odin's faithful wife, her eyes red with weep- 
ing. But now she checked her tears, for she thought she had 
found a way to regain her darling. 

"Which," she asked, "which of you brave sons of the Ases 
will ride down to Helheim and will dare to entreat the goddess 
of the Under-world to restore Baldur, the light of the world, to 
As2-heim? He who does this shall be held highest in my 
esteem and in that of Allfather." 

Hermodur, the swift, immediately offered to be her messenger 
to the realm of shades. He at once saddled Sleipnir and set 
out on his journey. 

The myth of the sun-god Baldur and of his death and resurrec- 
tion is very old. The Teutonic races brought it from their original 
home, and formulated it in the northern lands to which they emi- 
grated in accordance with the rude climate and the mode of life to 
which they had there grown accustomed. The sun-god was wor- 
shipped by all the Aryan nations, had costly sacrifices offered to him, 
and prayers and songs made for him. The Semitic peoples also, the 
Babylonians, Phoenicians, etc., regarded him as the god who blessed 
arts and manufactures, trade and ships. The festival of Adonis 
and the mysteries of Mithras, which the Romans brought into 
Europe from the East, clearly have reference to the death of the sun- 
god after the summer solstice, and to his resurrection after the winter 


solstice, and traces are still to be found of the Mysteries of Mithras 
in such parts of Germany as the Romans settled in. 

The Ases were still standing about the corpse of Baldur. The 
body was dressed in its grave-clothes and laid upon Baldur's own 
ship Hringhorn. By Odin's command the wood for the funeral 
pyre was heaped high on the deck of the vessel, so that the flames 
might be seen in every land. 

Nanna was standing beside her dead husband. She had no 
tears with which to weep for him, her low shuddering sobs alone 
showed the intensity of her grief When the torch was lighted 
with which the wood was to be set on fire, her heart burst with 
sorrow and she sank down beside the corpse pale and lifeless, like 
a broken flower. 

So the sorrowing Ases laid her on the pyre by her husband, and 
beside them they placed the horse of the god, which had to die 
with its master. Then Odin added the golden ring Draupnir, from 
which eight other rings dropped every ninth night. He also whis- 
pered a word in the ear of his son, so low that none of the by- 
Istanders could hear. Perhaps it was the comforting assurance of 
I resurrection to a new and better life. 

Crowds had assembled to gaze upon the sad spectacle and join 
the Ases in showing their respect for the darling and benefactor 
of the world. The Walkyries were there leaning on their spears, 
and the Dises wrapped in their dark veils ; the Light-Elves and 
the Wood and Water-sprites were also there. Besides these came 
the Mountain and Frost-giants, and even the Black-Elves. 
, Odin's ravens fluttered sadly round the ship; they knew well 
f what the gods and heaven and earth had lost. The ship had 
been drawn up on the shore and placed upon rollers, that it 
might be pushed down into the water before being set on fire. 
But it was so heavy, because of the quantity of wood and costly 
gifts piled upon it, that it was impossible to move it. Then the 


Mountain-giants said that a woman named Hyrrockin, who Hved 
in Jotunheim and who could move mountains unaided, would soon 
shove the ship into the water if some one would go and fetch 
her. So a Storm-giant started at once in search of her. She 
soon came, but not borne on the wings of the messenger as they 
had expected ; she was riding a monstrous wolf, whose bridk 
was a horrible snake. 

She dismounted and looked round her scornfully, as though 
she regarded all present as a set of weaklings, after which she gave 
her strange steed into the charge of four Berserkers whom Odin 
sent to hold it. Whilst these managed to hold the wolf with in- 
finite difficulty, the woman went up to the ship and pushed it into 
the water with the first shove ; but the friction was so great that 
the rollers caught fire. This enraged Thor so much that he swung 
Miolnir preparatory to throwing it at the woman's head ; but all 
the Ases entreated him to be calm, and to remember that Hyr- 
rockin had come under their safe conduct, and that she had been 
of service to them. He allowed himself to be appeased, and got 
into the ship to bless it with his hammer. While doing this the 
little dwarf Lit got into his way, and he kicked him into the fire, 
so that he was burnt with the corpse. The flames mounted high 
into the air and sky ; earth and sea were reddened with them. 
They made known to the whole world that the god of innocence, 
love and righteousness was dead, and that his blessings were lost 
to them henceforth. 

It was not at all uncommon for the dwellers on the sea-coast to 
bury their dead on board their ships. It was a very ancient custom, 
and still existed after grave-mounds and the burning of the dead 
had been introduced. Even amongst the AUemannes by the Rhine 
and Danube we find coffins carved like boats. There are many 
stories about this mode of burial, amongst others that regarding 
St. Emmeran. 


Frigg alone of all the Ases still nourished hope of her son's 
restoration. She believed that Hel would allow herself to be 
moved by Hermodur's intercession, and would permit Baldur to 
return to the Upper-world. The divine messenger set out on his 
journey to the Under-world. Sleipnir bore him for nine nights 
through dark valleys and glens into which no ray of light pene- 
trated. The silence of death was all around, and the only sound to 
be heard was that made by the horse's feet At length Hermodur 
reached the banks of the river GioU, which divides the kingdom of 
the dead from that of the living. 

He was about to ride over the gold-covered bridge that spans 
the Gioll, but the gigantic porteress Modgud (spiritual conflict) 
came forward and asked him what he was doing there. 

" Yesterday," she said, " crowds of dead rode over the bridge, 
and yet they did not make as much noise as thou alone ; and be- 
sides that, thou hast not the colour of death. Speak, what dost 
thou, a living man, want with the dead ? " 

" I seek for Baldur, my dear brother, who was' slain. For his 
sake I have ridden down the Hel road that I may entreat the god- 
dess to let him go free. If thou hast seen him, show me where I 
may find him." 

Hermodur ceased, and the porteress pointed to the north, as she 
said that she had seen Baldur ride over the bridge, and he was 
even now with Hel. 

Then Hermodur continued his journey fearlessly, until at length 
he reached the fence round Hel's abode, and there he could find no 
mode of entrance. 

It was a question of his brother's restoration, so he did not hesi- 
tate. He dismounted, drew the girths tighter, and then remount- 
ing set spurs to Sleipnir, and Odin's horse leapt high over the 
fence and landed safely on the other side. 

Hermodur was now in the realm of shades, and surrounded on 


every side by grey rocks which seemed to stare at him with hollow 

He felt as though in a dream, as he made his way to a house he 
saw before him. He entered, and there he saw the queen of the 
land, stern of aspect and adorned with gold and diamonds. She 
was pale as death, and her eyes were fixed upon the ground. She 
knew no mercy, for the golden light of the sun had never shone on 
her. Near her was Baldur, seated on a throne, and looking wan as 
the withered wreath of flowers on his head ; by his side was Nanna, 
who had died for love of him. A golden goblet filled with sweet 
mead stood before him untouched. 

Hermodur approached him, and spoke to him of his return to 
Ase-heim, which Hel would certainly permit, as every creature 
longed for it. But Baldur shook his head and pointed at Nanna, 
as if he wished to say, " Take her with thee, she is too young for 
the world of shades." And she crept closer to him, whispering, so 
low as to be almost inaudible, " Death and the grave cannot 
destroy true love ; Nanna (blossom) remains with him who gave 
her life and being. I will stay with thee for ever." So the three 
talked together for a whole night Next morning Hermodur asked 
Hel to restore Baldur to the Ases, for not only the gods, but also 
every one in heaven and on earth, mourned for him. 

The goddess rose from her dark throne, the gold and diamonds 
on her breast shone with an unearthly lustre, and the abyss 

She answered in a monotonous voice : " If all creatures mourn 
for him, if everything that has life weeps for him, then, in accord- 
ance with the eternal decree, Baldur may once more return to the 
light of day ; but if one eye refuses to weep for him, he must 
remain in Helheim, There is no other choice/' 

Hermodur knew that what the goddess had said was unalterable. 
He took leave of his brother and Nanna. Both went with him to 


the door, Baldur gave him the ring Draupnir to return to Odin, as 
that symbol of plenty was worthless in the kingdom of the dead. 
Nanna sent Frigg a veil and other gifts, while to FuUa she sent a 
golden ring with which one day to adorn the blooming bride. 

The divine messenger now set out on his return to the Upper- 
world and Asgard, and when he got there he told all that he had 
seen and heard. The Ases looked upon his news as good news, 
and at once sent servants into all parts of the universe to call upon 
every creature and every inanimate object that had life to weep for 

Tears hung like pearls from every flower and plant, they dropped 
like dew from the leaves and branches of the trees, and the very 
metals and stones exuded moisture. On their road home the mes- 
sengers passed by a dark cave, in which they found the giantess 
Thock (darkness), who was as terrible to look upon as Hel herself. 
They asked the woman to shed a tear, so that Baldur, the god of 
light, might return ; but the giantess answered : 

" Thock can only weep with dry eyes for Baldur's death. He 
f was of no use to her living or dead, so Hel may keep what she has 

The messengers vainly strove to soften the hard heart of the 
giantess ; but she vanished from their eyes into the black depths 
of the cavern, and they could see her no more. 

So they continued their journey sadly ; but one of them said 
that he had recognised Loki in the woman's dress. And then 
at once their eyes were opened and they said that he was 
right. When they brought the sorrowful tidings to Asgard, 
loud was the lamentation of the gods, for they knew that Baldur's 
return was hopeless. 

Days passed, and every day made their loss appear greater. 
Whenever the Ases assembled under the holy oak, the word 
vengeance was on their lips. It was the first law, the highest 


duty, the oldest justice, and had been exercised from the earliest 
times. But it was difficult to carry out, for Hodur avoided the 
light of day; he only went out at night, and his Ase strength 
grew in the darkness. He was blind and could use neither 
spear nor bow. It was known, however, that the Wood-demons 
had given him a magic shield to protect him and also a terrible 
magic sword, and every one feared to meet him in the dark night. 
So Hodur used to glide about through the lonely forest like a 
ghost at midnight without fearing the avenger of blood, whose duty 
it was to punish him for the crime of patricide. 

One day, a lad with a child-like face and a strong, well-knit 
figure walked in at the gate- of Asgard. He pursued his way 
as if he knew where he was going, and when he reached Walhalla, 
he tried to enter, but the door-keeper stopped him, saying : 

" No youth with uncombed hair and unwashed hands is allowed 
to enter here." 

The lad pushed him aside and went into the hall unannounced. 
The Ases and Einheriar gazed with pleased surprise at the youthful 
stranger, and Odin called to him to approach, adding in a loud 
voice : 

"This is Wall, my son by the lady Rinda,— this is he who is 
called to the holy work of the avenger." 

Then the Ases said amongst themselves : " How is it possible 
for a youth like this to conquer strong Hodur.' " 

" It is true that I am young, that I am only one night old," 
cried the lad," but still I shall conquer Hodur, in like manner as 
young May conquers strong Winter." 

Night came ; Hodur walked as usual along the dark paths he 
knew so well. Suddenly he heard a voice exclaim : 

" Murderer of Baldur, beware, the avenger is nigh." 

The god of darkness girded his magic shirt closer round him, 
and advanced with his drawn sword towards the place from which 


the voice had come. Then an arrow hissed through the air, 
a second and a third followed, and the last struck the blind god 
to the heart. The bowman's shout of triumph was so loud that 
it echoed throughout Asgard, and all the gods and goddesses 
hastened to the spot. 

There is no doubt that this is the description of the victory of 
Spring over Winter. As we learn from Saxo, it was originally 
Baldur himself who conquered Hodur, the god of the long night of 
winter ; but when the myth of Baldur became part of the great 
universal year, the story of Wali, the god of spring, was added, and 
he it was who avenged his brother's murder. 




'T^HE time of the flax harvest had come. The Ases were 
■^ about to celebrate the festival in Ogir's crystal halls. They 
were still sorrowing for the loss of Baldur, and hoped to forget 
their grief for a time in the flowing bowls of mead offered them by 
the god of the ocean. 

Odin was there with his golden helmet on his head, and Frigg, 
the Queen of Heaven, with her circlet of stars, Freya wearing 
the beautiful necklace Brisingamen, golden-haired Sif, Bragi, 
Niorder and' Skadi, Freyer, Heimdal, Widar and other Ases. 
Strong Thor alone was absent ; he had gone to help his peasants 



till the ground and slay any giants or other naonsters who made 
themselves obnoxious. 

Sly Loki glided into the hall with his soft, cat-like step, hoping to 
enjoy the golden mead that Ogir had provided for his guests. As he 
was advancing, however, he was stopped by Funafeng, who had 
been stationed at the door to guard the entrance. 

" No seat is prepared for thee in Ogir's halls," he said ; 
" go, seek a place for thyself in the house of Angurboda, B^enris's 

Loki was very angry when he heard these words, more especi- 
ally as the Ases all joined in praising Funafeng for what he had 
said. He struck the man so that he fell down dead on the spot. 
A great uproar ensued, for murder had been committed in a sacred 
place. The Ases seized their weapons and would have rushed 
upon Loki, but he had hidden himself in a wood that was close to 
the palace. 

Quiet was at last re-established. Beyggwir, and Beyla, the house- 
keeper, served the guests. This task was made much easier for 
them because the cans from which they poured the mead were so 
cunningly devised that they refilled themselves as fast as they were 

Meanwhile Loki returned. He found Eldir guarding the door, 
and spoke to him as if nothing had happened. He asked what the 
gods of victory were talking about. 

" Of arms and brave deeds," replied Eldir, " but they have not a 
single good word for thee." 

" Very well then, I will go and join them," said the villain ; " I 
will so cover them with shame and guilt that none of them will 
have a word to say in answer." 

With these words he thrust Eldir aside and entered the hall. 
Suddenly all conversation ceased and was succeeded by a death- 
like silence. Every eye was fixed on him who had sullied the 


sanctuary with murder. But Loki asked boldly if they were going 
to refuse him, an Ase and their equal, a seat at the banquet and 
a cup of mead. And Bragi answered that they would never again 
consent to receive such a villain as one of themselves. 

Then Loki turned to Odin, and thus addressed him : 

" Hast thou forgotten how we in the olden time mixed our 
blood, swore brotherhood, and promised never to drink a refresh- 
ing draught that was not offered to the other "i " 

He did not speak in vain ; Allfather remembered how he had 
long ago entered into the bond of brotherhood with Loki. So 
although his former friend was perjured and forsworn, he desired 
Widar to make room for him and give him a bowl of mead. 
This was done, and Loki emptied the goblet, saying : 

"All hail, holy gods and noble goddesses, but confusion to 
Bragi, who denied me drink when I was thirsty." 

The Prince of Song was silent for a few minutes, and then he 
said that he would give his sword, horse and ring to ensure that 
Loki did no more harm. And Loki answered that Bragi was 
not rich in treasures, and that his sword was of little use to him, 
and that he only required his horse to escape from danger. Bragi 
challenged the blasphemer to instant combat ; but Loki went on 
quietly with his accusations, overwhelming all, gods and goddesses 
alike, with his aspersions. Even Odin and Frigg did not escape, 
and the latter exclaimed : 

" Oh that my son Baldur were here, he would soon have silenced 
thy slanderous tongue." 

"Ah well, great goddess," Loki went on, with a malicious sneer, 
" shall I tell thee yet more of my misdeeds .' Dost thou know 
that it was I who gave the mistletoe bough to blind Hodur, that 
he might send thy darling Baldur down to Hel's domain ? " 

The Queen of the Ases shrieked, and the gods caught up their 
weapons. But before they had time to do more, a terrible clap 



of thunder shook the house, and Thor stood before them swinging 
Miolnir. The blasphemer turned upon him and sneered at him 
for having hidden away in the thumb of Skrymir's glove. And 
when Hlorridi (heat bringer) threatened him with his hammer, 
he cried : 

' I sang to the glory of the Ases in Ogir's halls, and that glory 
will soon pass away when once the flames of destruction are seen. 
They have drunk of cool mead here for the last time, for Ragnarok 
is coming. I shall now hide myself from the fury of strong Thor, 
who would willingly strike me down." 

And immediately he took the form of a salmon and swam 
away into the rushing waters that surrounded the crystal palace 
of Ogir. 

The Ases sought everywhere for Loki. They went through 
Asgard and Midgard, they searched in Jotunheim and in the 
Home of the Black-Elves, but he was nowhere to be found. They 
were miserable at the thought that the author of evil might escape 
their vengeance. 

Odin seated himself on his throne Hlidskialf and looked down 
upon the nine worlds ; he saw a lonely house situated on the other 
side of a high mountain, and in this house was he whom they 
sought. So Allfather descended from his throne, and calling the 
Ases about him, told them where they would find Loki. 

The fugitive had made himself a peculiar dwelling in a cliff 
overhanging a wild mountain torrent. This dwelling consisted of 
one large room with four doors, all of which were kept open. 
There he sat day and night gazing out at the four quarters of the 
heavens to see whether his pursuers were on his track. He felt no 
remorse, no pricks of conscience — he had long conquered all such 
weaknesses — he only feared the vengeance that he had called down 
upon himself. He often swam about in the stream in the form of 
a salmon, comforting himself with the thought that none could re- 



cognise him. And yet his fears gave him no rest ; he trusted no 
one, not even his wife Sigyn, who loved him in spite of all his sins. 

For whole days he sat in his airy dwelling, keeping a sharp look- 
out in every direction, while he busied himself in making all sorts 
of useful things, and amongst others, a fishing-net, which until then 
was absolutely unknown. He grew so interested in making this 
net that he quite forgot the danger that threatened him. Sud- 
denly the flames of the fire on his hearth rose in a column, as 
though to call his attention to something that was going on. He 
looked up and saw the Ases marching towards him. He threw the 
net into the fire, and hastened to the water-fall, where he hid himself. 

Cunning and treachery are often caught in their own net. The 
Ases did not find the slanderer in his airy dwelling. The fire had 
burnt out. But the place where it had been was still warm, and 
showed that some one had been there lately. One of the gods, who 
was learned in wisdom and in the runes, examined the ashes, and 
discovered what no human eye could have seen, the form and use 
of the net. 

" Found ! " he exclaimed ; " the wily enchanter's thoughts have 
been full of the idea of fish and fishing. He has been making a 
net, then he burnt it, and is now hiding in the stream in the form 
of a fish." 

Gefion looked at the net, and soon found out how it was made, 
and, with the help of the others, got a second net ready in a very 
short time. This they dipped into the water just under the fall. 
Thor held one side and the rest of the Ases held the other, so that 
the net stretched across the stream. After dragging the water for 
some distance, a gigantic salmon was discovered and caught with 
infinite difficulty. Thor held on by the fish's tail in spite of its 
struggles. A blow, a knock with a stone, would have killed it ; 
but it suddenly changed its form, and the blasphemer, the insti- 
gator of murder, false Loki, was in the hands of Hlorridi. 


The Ases rejoiced to have their enemy in their power. They 
bound the arch-fiend's legs and arms together and dragged him 
away to a cave in the mountain. There they prepared for him the 
bed of misery that had been foretold for him. Three sharp-pointed 
masses of rock were placed, one between his shoulders, the second 
under his loins, and the third under his knees. Then his two sons, 
Wall and Narwi, were brought to him, followed by their weeping 
mother, Sigyn. Wali was changed into a fierce wolf, and he im- 
mediately tore his brother in pieces. The Ases now bound the 
guilty father to the rock with the sinews of his murdered son, and 
when this was done the bonds were converted into heavy iron 

Skadi carried out the last part of the judgment that had been 
pronounced upon Loki by fastening a poisonous adder over the 
head of the evil-doer in such a way that the poison exuding from 
its jaws should drop upon his face, and this caused him unspeak- 
able torment. After this was done, the Ases returned to Asgard, 
which was no longer the green home it used to be, for eternal 
spring reigned there no more, and the mark of change was upon 

One creature alone had compassion on the sinner, and that was 
Sigyn, the wife he had so often treated with cruelty and contempt. 
She would not desert him, but remained by his side, and, holding 
a dish above his head, caught the poison as it dropped from the 
adder. When the dish was full, and she had to remove it to empty 
it, the horrible slime fell upon Loki's face, and made him howl with 
agony, and turn and twist himself, till Mother Earth shook to her 
foundations. That is what ignorant men call an earthquake. 

The crime was now punished, and the gods, who here showed 
themselves as moral powers, carried out the sentence pronounced 
upon the criminal. But they themselves were not unsullied by sin. 
Many of the accusations, with which the blasphemer had over- 


whelmed them, were well-founded, and every sin brings down its 
own punishment in heaven and on earth. And so the day of 
destruction drew near, when the tempter, who was at the same 
time the author of evil, should be freed from his bonds and the 
world should come to an end. 

In this myth Loki appears as the cause of all evil. He is the 
tempter who makes the innocent fall into sin, although he knows 
that he thereby destroys them. If in primaeval times he had 
been the sworn brother of Odin and the god of the domestic fire, he 
was now a consummate villain and threw the brand into the house 
in which he was to be burnt together with the guilty and the 
innocent. The principle of vengeance for bloodshed was, deeply 
rooted in ancient Scandinavia. " He who has injured me must pay 
for it, even though I know that I shall perish with him," was 
the idea on which both noble and serf acted. 

In this tale we have smoothed over a good many discrepancies 
that appear in the myth, but not all. We let Bragi and Iduna 
appear, although they dwelt in the depth of the earth. Perhaps 
they were allowed to rise once more that they might take part in 
the festival. But we have left out about Kwasir, who, according to 
the myth, discovered the net in the ashes, because his appearance 
was unnecessary. It is very curious that Loki, the fire-god, 
should have hidden in the water ; but the belief that fire takes 
refuge in water is to be found amongst other nations, and is 
perhaps founded on the reflection of the sun, moon and stars, 
sunrise and sunset, that are to be seen in the water. 



' I "HE tempter, the author of evil, was firmly bound to the cold 
-*- rock, but the evil seed he had sown grew and flourished, 
and even the gods, the moral powers, whose duty it was to uphold 
universal law, were no longer pure and free from guilt ; the 
wholesome bonds of law were broken, and the destruction of the 
world approached. Neither truth nor faith was to be found in 
heaven or on earth, and love, which had formerly bound friends, 
parents, children, brothers and sisters to each other, had lost its 
power. Self-seeking, self-interest and grasping covetousness 
became the guiding principles of life ; murder, incendiarism and 
bloodshed were everywhere to be found. 

The sun still continued its course through the heavens, but it 
shone mistily as through a veil, and gave no warmth in summer. 
Winter set in early, and it was a Fimbul- Winter, a winter of horrors. 
The snow-storms were such as had never been known before, and 
the frost was terribly hard. Many houses and villages were buried 
in the snow, and their inhabitants perished. The Fimbul- Winter 
seemed as if it would never end ; it lasted for three years, without 
any summer to break its fury. Trees and bushes, grass and 
plants perished, men died of cold and hunger, and yet they did 


not cease from their lies and murders and other deeds of 

Meanwhile Fenris's children, the wolves, grew into horrib le 
monsters, for the old j^iant-ess in the for est fed them with marrow 
taken fro m the bones of murdered peiy urers and b reakers of th e 
marriage bond, an d gave them to drink of the blood of dea d 
poisoners, parricides and fratricide s, and there was abunda nce o f 
such food . 

Wala, the prophetess, was asked what all this meant, and she 
said, that the sun, moon and Mother Earth were sorrowing over 
the fall of man, that the wolves and other hostile powers would 
soon be free, and then the destruction of the universe would 

Many signs and wonders were to be seen du ring that time, as^ 
we read in the Lay of Wala. 

The glory of the sun was darkened, wicked Idises were seen 
flying through the air, Fjalar, the bright-red cock of Asgard, crowed 
loudly, the dark-red cock in Helheim answered him, and all in the 
Upper-world heard their crowing. The great wolves Skioll and 
Hati rushed up to attack the sun and moon ; they seized and 
swallowed them, and now darkness reigned in heaven and earth. 
Then the earth itself shook to its very foundations, and all chains 
were broken. Thus it happened that Loki was set free, that his 
horrible son Fenris was able to shake off his bonds and hasten 
with his children to join his father, and that Garm, Hel's dog, could 
rise out of the Gnypa cave with the other dark followers of the 
goddess, to take their share in the work of destruction. The sea 
was stirred to its depths and overflowed the land. Out of its 
abyss the Midgard-snake reared her frightful head, and flung her- 
self about with a giant's rage, so much did she long for the struggle 
to begin. 

Heimdal then blew a loud blast on the Giallarhorn that sounded 


through all the homes, wakening Ases and Einheriar, and warning 
them to prepare for the Last Battle. Odin mounted Sleipnir as 
soon as he was armed, and rode away to Mimir's Well. The 
World-Ash was rustling and trembling In the storm, its leaves were 
falling rapidly, and its roots threatened to snap. The Norns were 
seated beside it, their heads hidden in their veils. Odin whispered 
to Mimir's head ; no one heard what he said or how he was 

Meanwhile Thrym, the king of the Jotuns, was steering his ship 
from the east over the everlasting sea. The Hrimthurses, armed 
with clubs and javelins, were on board. At the same time, Nagel- 
fari, the ship of death, was set afloat, and was borne along on the 
waves. It was built of the nails of the dead which love had not 
caused to be cut. Love had died in the parricidal wars that pre- 
vailed, and the last offices were therefore denied to the dead. 
Loki steered the vessel. With him were Surtur, swinging his 
flaming sword, whose blade shone brighter than the sun, and all 
the sons of Muspel dressed in fiery armour, which blinded all who 
looked at it. They landed, mounted the horses they had brought 
with them, and galloped over the bridge Bifrost, which broke 
under their weight. Loki led his hosts to the plain of Wigrid, that 
measured a hundred miles on every side. Odin also went there, 
accompanied by his brave Ases and heroes. 

Once more the Giallarhorn was sounded, and then the Last 
Battle began. The Wolf howled, the Snake hissed and spat out 
poison, which filled and infected the air. The sons of Muspel, 
under Surtur's guidance, rushed on their enemies like flames of fire. 
The Einheriar, headed by Freyer, withstood them bravely, and 
they fell back. Thor fought gallantly, and slew numbers of the 
Hrimthurses and other monsters. Odin sought out the Fenris- 
wolf, and the battle between them began. 

No seer or bard has made known to us how that terrible struggle 

' I™ III 'nil I I 


between the Father of Victory and the Wolf was fought. Even 
Wala covers the whole affair with the veil of silence ; she only 

/says that he, the omnipotent Father, was slain by the Wolf 
Freyer's fate was the same when he fought against the sons of 
Muspel. He met black Surtur in their ranks and fell dead at a 
blow from his flaming sword. Thor slew Jormungander, but died 
himself from the pestiferous breath she had breathed upon him 
when dying. Heimdal and Loki fought hand to hand, and each 
slew the other. Fenris fell under the sword of Widar. Tyr and 
Garm wrestled and struggled together, and at last Tyr was victo- 
rious. The leaders of the Ases and their enemies were all dead, 
but still the battle raged. 

The earth quaked, mountains fell, abysses yawned, and reached 
down even to the kingdom of Hel. The heavens split open and 
threatened to fall. The ash Yggdrasil groaned and moaned like a 
living creature. And now Surtur, the dark, the terrible, began to 
draw himself up. He grew taller and taller, till he reached the 

Before him and behind him was fire, and his flaming sword shone 
in the darkness in which he was wrapped. He flung his fire-brand 
over heaven, earth, and all the worlds, and at once everything that 
existed, animate or inanimate, was plunged into a lake of fire. 
The fire raged, Yggdrasil was surrounded by flames, the storm- 
wind howled, heaven and earth and the nine homes were no more ; 
Surtur's flames had destroyed them all. 
I When the fire went out, the unquiet sea overflowed the scene of 

/desolation. No creature, no life, moved in its depths ; no mer- 

' maid floated on the dark waves ; no star was reflected on its 

' surface. 

Years passed, perhaps centuries — there was none to count them — 
and again the morning star bathed its head in the calm waters. 
Dawn once more flushed the sky, A new sun arose, the blooming, 


ijglowing child of the old. At length a new earth appeared above the 
( waters. At first it was bare and desolate, but the rays of the sun 
touched it, and soon it was covered with grass and herbs and the 
well-flavoured leek. Trees and shrubs grew up, and flowers of 
various colours filled the air with their perfume. In the quiet 
valley where the Fountain of Urd had flowed of old, and where 
Odin used to talk with Mimir about the past and the riddles of the 
future, a youth and a maiden, Lif and Lifthrasir, came out of 
Hoddmimir's wood. 

They were beautiful and loving, pure and innocent as the sweet 
flowerets around them, and, like them, they had been awaked out 
of a long dream by the rays of the sun. They had hidden them- 
selves in the wood in the olden days and had lived on dew. Then 
they had fallen asleep, and were sunk in childhood's dreams while 
the Last Battle raged. Allfather had preserved them from Sur- 
tur's flames by a last miracle. 

Ignorant of the terrors that threatened them, as a sleeping child 
borne in its mother's arms out of a burning house, they had rested 
safely in the arms of Allfather, and now they looked in astonish- 
ment at the new fair world in which they found themselves. They 
were very happy. There was abundance of fruit ; the fields were 
full of yellow corn ripe for the harvest, which no human hand had 
sown, and the vines were laden with grapes. Animals of all kinds 
were grazing in the fat pastures, and many-hued snakes glided 
harmlessly in the grass, but none of Fenrir's race were to be seen. 

Lif and Lifthrasir built themselves a roomy dwelling, and saw 
children and grandchildren grow up about them, and then make 
new homes for themselves. From these are descended the nume- 
rous races of men that inhabit the earth. 

Over the place where Asgard's glorious palaces had stood was a 
wide plain. This was the Field of Ida, and it was far more beau- 
tiful than the green home of the gods. There the holy Ases were 



assembled ; for they, like the world, had been purified by fire, and 
were now fitted to dwell in Ida in eternal peace. The bonds of 
Hel could bind them no more, for the kingdom of evil had passed 
away, and night had been changed into day. Baldur and Hodur 
walked there arm i ■> .rm, reconciled to each other through love. 
They were joined by Widar and Wali, the avenging Ases, who no 
longer thought of vengeance. Surtur's flames had not destroyed 
them, nor yet had the raging waters. There were also Magni and 
Modi, the sons of Thor. They brought Miolnir with them, not as 
a weapon of war, but as the instrument with which to consecrate 
the new heavens and the new earth. 

On the Field of Ida, the field of resurrection, the sons of the 
highest gods assembled, and in them their fathers rose again. 
They talked together of the Past and the Present, and remembered 
the wisdom and prophecies of their ancestors which had all been 
fulfilled. Near them, but unseen by them, was the strong, the mighty 
One who rules all things, makes peace between those who are 
angry with each other, and ordains the eternal laws that govern 
the world. They all knew he was there, they felt his presence 
and his power, but were ignorant of his name. At his command 
the new earth rose out of the waters. To the south, above the 
Field of Ida, he made another heaven called Audlang, and further 
off, a third, known as Widblain. Over Gimil's cave a wondrous palace 
was erected, which was covered with gold and shone brighter than 
the sun. There the gods were enthroned as they used to be, and 
they rejoiced in their restoration and in the better time. 

From Gimil's heights they looked down upon the happy descend- 
ants of Lif and signed to them to climb up higher, to rise in know- 
ledge and wisdom, in piety and in deeds of love, step by step, from 
one heaven to another, until they were at last fit to be united to the 
divinities in the house of Allfather. 

This was what our forefathers believed about Ragnarok, the 


Twilight of the gods or the Divine Judgment ; it was no con- 
temptible faith, and in our opinion it deserves more reverence 
than the teaching of the Greeks and Romans, whose gods eternally 
I drank nectar and ambrosia on the heights of Olympos, while 
/mortal men descended into dark Hades, or perhaps to the Elysian 
• i' Fields. 

Ragnarok means the Darkening of the Regin, i.e., of the gods, 
hence the Twilight of the Gods ; some, however, explain the word 
Rok to mean Judgment, i.e., of the gods. The gods sinned, evil 
gained the upper-hand amongst gods and men, and when the 
god of holiness and righteousness was taken away, they all sank 
into a deep abyss of guilt ; murder, fratricide and convulsions of 
nature portended the destruction of the universe. Ragnarok fol- 
lowed. Then a new and more beautiful world appeared, in which 
Ases and men, purified by fire, could now live in peace and good- 

It is true that in the Younger Edda and in the Lay of Wala we 
find allusions to places of punishment in the realms of Hel ; but, 
in our opinion, these descriptions have been introduced from other 
poems and are at variance with the leading idea which we have 
just given. 

The Aryans, like all other people living in a state of nature, 
had at first a vague indefinite consciousness of God ; they felt 
that there was a Being who had created everything and who 
guided and governed the universe. In the ancient records, in 
which this idea had already grown dim, this Being was called 
Zerwana-Akarana, i.e, everlasting time and immeasurable space, 
and was perhaps essentially Eternity. According to later concepts 
this Being took no part in the direction of the worid or in the 
doings of man. 

Two other beings, Ormuzd (Ahura-Mazda) and Ahriman 
(Agramainyus) fought for the supreme power ; but neither they 


nor their spiritual hosts entered into personal collision with each 
other ; instead of this, they sought to bring the human spirit and 
earthly things under their dominion : the latter by cunningly 
planned temptations, icy cold snow-storms and darkness ; and 
the former by good deeds, fine weather, and especially by the 
light that conquers darkness and evil. At the end of days 
Ormuzd and all the righteous were to enjoy blessedness and 
peace, while Ahriman had to undergo a painful purification by 
fire before he could attain a similar condition. 

The modern theory is that the belief in Zerwana-Akarana, 
and the dogmas respecting the end of the world and the 
purification of Agramainyus are of later origin, and that they 
first arose through the influence of the Western Iranian and 
Semitic races ; but traces of these beliefs are to be found in the 
Zend-Avesta of Zoroaster and in tlie Indie Vedas, and the 
relationship with the Norse belief in Allfather, the Last Battle, 
and the Renewal of the World, seems to be founded on this 
Aryan belief. 

We must allow something for the influence of Christianity on 
the Germanic races especially with regard to Ragnarok, and the 
Resurrection of the world, the Ases and men, and also in reference 
to Allfather, to the description of the realm of Hel, and of the 
places of reward and punishment. It is a mistake to deny this 
influence, to make so much of the fact that the heathen had a 
foreboding of the existence of the one God, that the Edda possessed 
a water-hell and the Christian myth a hell of fire, and lastly to 
maintain that a knowledge of the Christian faith was impossible 
to the Scandinavians. Why may not the indefinite foreboding, the 
misty conception of something divine, have first received a distinct 
form in the consciousness of the heathen through Christian 
influence.? And if the Teutons had ever heard of the Christian 
idea of punishment in hell, would they not have conceived this 


hell after their own fashion and according to the conditions, 
climatic and other, that surrounded them ? We have already 
shown how not only the Germans, but also the Scandinavians, early 
came in contact with Christianity, and this was the case even 
before the Wiking raids of the ninth and tenth centuries. The 
Jutes, and perhaps the Danes and Norwegians as well, went to 
Christian Britain in the fifth century and conquered it after a 
struggle that lasted for a hundred years. There these wild people 
were brought into contact with the Britons and even with their 
Christian priests, who gladly told the warlike and musical skalds 
about their own faith. These seeds of a purer religion took form 
and life in the poems of the skalds, which however retained their 
old Northern colouring and were not changed into hymns of victory 
in a foreign faith. 

The myths exist in the present like the stately ruins of a past 
time, which are no longer suitable for the use of man. Generations 
come and go, their views, actions and modes of thought change ; 
and yet as the poet says : 

" All things change ; they come and go ; 
The pure unsullied soul alone remains in peace." 

Thousands of years ago our ancestors prayed to Waruna, i.e. 
the Father in heaven ; thousands of years later the Romans entered 
their sanctuary and worshipped Jupiter, the Father of heaven, 
while the Germanic races worshipped Allfather. We, after the 
lapse of centuries, now turn in all our sorrows and necessities to 
Our Father which is in heaven. Other thousands of years may pass, 
and we shall not have grown beyond this central point of religion. 
But as everything that our forefathers added to this has passed 
away, so the systems that we have built up round it may also pass 
away. No man ever yet has seen the full truth, or can see it. 
" For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.'' 


This " then '' can never be on earth. 

Our little systems have their day ; 
They have their day, and cease to be : 
They are but broken lights of Thee, 

And Thou, O Lord, art more than they. 

We have but faith : we cannot know ; 

For knowledge is of things we see ; 

And yet we trust it comes from Thee, 
A beam in darkness : let it grow 1 


We here annex one of the most interesting poems of the Elder 
Edda, the Woluspa or Lay of Wala, the prophetess. It is the 
translation given in Pfeiffer's " Visit to Iceland," and we think it 
will be of value to our readers. 


To attention I invite all the holy generations, 

The sons of Heimdal, great and small ; 

Of the Father of the Elect I would proclaim the mysteries. 

The antique traditions of heroes which I have formerly learned. 

I remember the Jotuns born at the commencement ; 

They formerly taught me. 

I remember the new worlds, the new forests, 

The great tree in the midst, upon the earth here below. 

It was the commencement of the ages when Ymir established himself : 

There was neither shore, nor sea, nor cool waves ; 

Neither earth nor heaven above was found ; 

There was the yawning gulf, but vegetation nowhere. 

Then the sons of Buri raised the firmament ; 

They formed the great enclosure of the middle ; 

Sol will enlighten, from the south, the rocks of the Abode ; 

The earth immediately became green with tufted verdure. 


Sol scatters from the south her favours upon Mani, 
On the right of the gate of the Celestial courser. 
Sol knew not where she had her abodes, 
The stars knew not where are their places, 
Mani knew not what was his power. 

Then the Great Powers all went to the elevated seats ; 
The most holy Gods deliberated upon that ; 
To the night, to the new moon they gave names ; 
They designated the dawn and the middle of the day, 
The twilight and the evening, to indicate the time. 

The Ases met together in the Plain of Ida, 
They built very high a sanctuary and a court ; 
They placed furnaces, fashioned jewels. 
Forged nails, and fabricated utensils. 

They played at the tables in the enclosure ; they were Joynirs, 

They were in want of nothing, and everything was in gold. 

Then the three Ases of this band, 

Full of power and of goodness, descended towards the sea 

They found in the country some wretched beings. 

Ask and Embla, needing destiny. 

They had no soul, they had no understanding. 
Neither blood, nor language, nor good exterior ; 
Odin gave the soul, Honir gave understanding, 
Lodur gave the blood and the good exterior. 

Then arrived three Virgin Thurses 

Very powerful from the land of the Jotun. 

I knew an ash, it is called Yggdrasill, 

A hairy tree, moistened by a brilliant cloud. 

Whence proceeds the dew which falls in the valleys y 

It raises itself, always green, above the Fountain of Urcl. 

Thence arose the three Virgins with much knowledge, 

From this lake which is below the tree ; 

Urd one is calted, the other Verdandi ; 

They engraved upon tablets ; Skuld was the third ; 

They consulted the laws, they interrogated fate, 

And proclaimed destiny to the children of men. 


Then the Great Powers all went to the lofty seats, 

The most holy Gods deliberated upon that ; 

** Who would form the chief of the Dvergues, 

From the blood of Brimir, from the thighs of the livid giant?" 

Then Modsognir became the first 

Of all the Dvergues, but Durin the second ; 

They formed of Ccirth the multitude of the Dvergues 

In the human figure, as Durin proposed ; 

Nyi and Nidi, Nordri and Sudri, 
Austri and Vestri, Althiofr, Dwalin, 
Nar and Nain, Nipingr, Dain, 
Bifurr and Bafurr, Bumburr, Nori, 

Anarr and Onarr, Ai, Miodvitnir, 
Veigr, Gandalfr, Vindalfr, Thorinn, 
Fili and Kill, Fundinn, Nali, 
Hepti, Vili, Hanarr, Sviorr. 

Frar, Fornbogi, Froegr, Loni, 

Thrar, and Thrainn, Thror, Vitr, Litr, 

Nyr, and Nyradr. — Behold, I have enumerated exactly 

The Dvergues powerful and intelligent. 

It is time to enumerate the human race, 
The Dvergues of the band of Dwalin, as far as Lofar ; 
These latter have sought, far from the Abode, 
Habitations at Aurvangar, as far as Joruvellir. 

There was Draupnir and Dolgthrasir, 
Har, Haugspori, Htevangr, Gloinn, 
Skirvir and Virvir, Skafidr, Ai, 
Alfr, and Yngvi, Eikinskialdi. 

Fialarr and Frosti, Finnr and Ginnarr, 

Heri, Haugstari, Hliodolfr, Noinn : — 

As long as there shall be men, they will always exalt 

The great number of the descendants of Lofar. 

She knows that the horn of Heimdal is concealed 

Under the sacred and majestic tree ; 

She sees that they drink with hasty draughts 

In the pledge of the Father of the Elect — Know you it ? But wliat ? 


She was seated without, solitary, when he came, the oldest, 

The most circumspect of the Ases, and looked in her eyes : — 

"Why sound me ? why put me to the proof? 

I know all, Odin ; I know where thou hast concealed thine eye, — 

In that great fountain of Mimir ; 

Every morning Mimir drinks the sweet beverage 

In the pledge of the Father of the Elect." — Know you it ? But what ? 

The Father of the Combatants chose for her rings and jewels, 
The rich gift of wisdom, and the charms of vision : — 
Then she saw far, very far into all the worlds. 

She saw the Walkyries hastening from afar, 
Eager to repair near the race of the Gods ; 
Skuld held the buckler, Skogul followed her, 
As well as Gunrr, Hildur, Gondul, Giruskogul : 
There are enumerated the servants of the Combatant, 
The Walkyries in haste to plunder the country. 

She recollects this first war in the world, 

When they had placed GuUweig upon the pikes, 

And had burned her in the dwelling of the Most High ; 

Three times had they burned her ; three times was she born again ; 

Burned often, frequently, she lives, however, still. 

Heidur is called to her in the houses she has entered ; 
She despised the charm of the visions of Wala ; 
She knew magic, she magic abused ; 
She was always the delight of the wicked race. 

Then the Great Powers all went to their elevated seats , 
The very holy Gods upon this deliberated : 
" The Ases should they expiate their imprudence, 
Or else shall all the Gods have authority?" 

The exterior wall of the Ases was overthrown ; 
The Wanes knew how, by stratagem, to break down the ramparts ; 
But Odin darted his arrow, and drew upon the enemy- 
Such was the first war in the world. 

Then the Great Powers all went to their elevated seats ; 

The very holy Gods deliberated upon this : 

" Who had filled with disaster the plains of space. 

And given up the affianced of Odur to the race of the Jotuns?" 


Thor alone rose, inflamed with anger ; 

Rarely does he remain seated when he learns such a thing : — 

Oaths were violated, promises and assurances. 

Every valid treaty that had passed on one side or the other. 

I foresaw for Baldur, for that bloody victim. 

For that son of Odin, the destiny reserved for him : 

He was raising in a charming valley 

A tender and beautiful mistleoe. 

From that stalk, which appeared so tender, grew 

The fatal arrow of bitterness which Hodur took upon himself to dart. 

The brother of Baldur had only just been born ; 

One night old, he was taken to fight against the son of Odin. 

He neither washed his hands nor combed his hair, 

Before that he carried to the funeral pile the murderer of Baldur ; 

But Frigg wept in Fensal 

For the misfortunes of Walhall. — Know you it ? But what ? 

She sees lying down near Hveralund 

A wicked creature, the ungrateful Loki ; 

It is in vain he shakes the fatal bonds of Wall ; 

They are too stiff, those cords of catgut. 

There is seated Sigyn, who at the fate of her husband 

Does not much rejoice. — Know you it .■■ But what ? 

Towards the north, at NidafoU, was raised 

The hall of gold of the race of Sindri ; 

But another was built at Okolnir. 

The drinking-hall of the Jotun who is named Brimir, 

She saw a hall situated far from the sun. 
At Nastrendr ; its gates are turned to the north ; 
Drops of venom fall into it through the windows. 
The hall is a tissue of serpents' backs. 

A river rushes on the east into the venomous valleys, 
A river of slime and mud ; it is called Slidur ; 
Wala saw dragged in it in the muddy waters. 
Perjured men, the exiled for murder. 
And him who seduced the partner of others : 
There, Nidhogg sucked the bodies of the departed. 
The wolf tore men. — Know you it .'' But what ? 


In the east she was seated, that aged woman, in Jarnvid. 

And there she nourished the posterity of Fenrir ; 

He will be the most formidable of all, he, 

Who, under the form of a monster, will swallow up the moon. 

He gorges himself with tlie life-blood of cowardly men, 

He stains with red drops the abode of the Great Powers ; 

The rays of the sun are eclipsed in the summer following. 

All the winds will become hurricanes. — Know you it ? But what ? 

Seated quite near upon a height he tuned his harp, 
The guardian of Gygur, the joyous Egdir : 
Not far from him, in Gagalvid, crowed 
The beautiful purple cock which is called Fialar. 

Near the Ases crowed GuUinkambi ; 

He awoke the heroes in the house of the Father of the Combatant: ; 

But another cock crowed below the earth, 

A black-red cock, in the dwelling of Hel. 

Garm howls frightfully before Gnypahall. 

The chains are going to break ; Freki will escape ; 

She pauses much, the prophetess : I see from afar 

The twilight of the Great Powers, the Fighting Gods. 

Brothers are going to fight against each other, and become fratricides 

Relations will break their alliances ; 

Cruelty reigns in the world, and a great luxury ; 

The age of axes, the age of lances, in which bucklers are cleft. 

The age of north-winds, the age of fierce beasts succeed before the world 

falls to pieces ; 
Not one dreams of sparing his neighbour. 

The sons of Mimir tremble, the tree in the middle takes fire 
At the startling sounds of the noisy horn ; 
Heimdal, horn in air, loudly sounds the alarm ; 
Odin consults the head of Mimir. 

Then the ash raised from Yggdrasil, 
That old tree, shivers : the Jotun breaks his chains : 
The shades shudder upon the roads to the lower region. 
Until the ardour of Surtur has consumed the tree. 


Hryra advances from the east, a buckler covers him : 

Jormungander unfolds himself in his giant rage : 

The serpent raises the waves, the eagle beats his wings, 

The yellow beak tears the bodies of the dead : Nalhfar is pierced : 

The ship sails from the east, the army of Muspel 
Approaches over the sea, Loki holds the rudder : 
The sons of Jotun sail all with Freki, 
The brother of Bileist is on board with them. 

Surtur starts from the south with disastrous swords ; 
The sun glitters upon the blades of the hero-gods : 
The mountains of the rock are shaken, the giants tremble, 
The shades press the road to hell. Heaven opens ! 

What are the Ases doing ? What do the Elves ? 

All Jotunheim bellows ; the Ases are met together ; 

At the gate of the caverns groan the Dvergues, 

The sages of the sacred mountains. — Know you it? But what ? 

Then the affliction of Hline is renewed, 

When Odin set out to combat the Wolf ; 

Whilst the glorious murderer of Beli is going to oppose himself to 

Surtur ; 
Verj' soon the cherished hero of Frigg will fall. 

But he comes, the valiant son of the Father of Combats, 

Widar, to struggle against the terrible monster : 

He leaves in the mouth of the scion of Hvedrung 

The steel plunged even to the heart. Thus the father is avenged. 

Here comes the illustrious son of Hlodune, 

He goes, the descendant of Odin, to fight the Serpent ; 

The defender of Midgard strikes him in his anger. 

The heroes go all to stain with blood the column of the world. 

He draws back with a new step, the son of Fiorgune, 

Bitten by the adder, intrepid with rage. . . . 

Behold coming the black flying Dragon, 

The adder, soaring above NidafioU : 

Nidhogg extends his wings, he flies over the plain. 

Above the bodies of the dead. Now she will be swallowed up. 


The sun begins to be dark ; the continent falls fainting into the Ocean ; 

They disappear from the sky, the brilliant stars ; 

The smoke eddies around the destroying fire of the world ; 

The gigantic flames play against heaven itself. 

She sees rising anew, 

In the Ocean, an earth with a thick verdure. 
Cascades fall there ; the eagle soars above it, 
And from the summit of the rock he espies the fish. 

The Ases are found again in the plain of Ida, 
Under the tree of the world they sit as powerful judges : 
They recal to mind the judgments of the gods, 
And the antique mysteries of Fimbultyr. 

Then the Ases found again upon the grass 

The marvellous tables of gold. 

Which the generations had, in the beginning of days, 

The chief of the gods and the posterity Fiolnir. 

The fields will produce without being sown : 

Every evil will disappear ; Baldur will return 

To inhabit with Hodur the enclosure of Hropt, 

The sacred abodes of the hero-igods. — Know you it ? But what ? 

Then Honir will be able to choose his part. 

And the sons of the two brothers shall dwell in 

The vast abode of the wind. — Know you it .'' But what ? 

She sees a hall more brilliant than the sun 
Arise, covered with gold, in the magnificent Gimlir : 
It is there that shall dwell the faithful people. 
And that they will enjoy an everlasting felicity. 

Then there came from op high to preside at the judgments of the Great 

The powerful sovereign who governs the universe : 
He tempers the decrees, he calms dissensions, 
And gives sacred laws inviolable for ever. 


Adil, 227. 

Adonis, 279. 

Aesir, 4. 

Aestyer, 183. 

Afi, 167. 

Agnar, 83-85 ; 232. 

Ahnfrau, 117. 

Ahriman, 4, 306-7. 

Ai, 1 66. 

Air, V. Kari. 

Ajo, 81. 

Alanes, 161. 

Alba, Duke, 166. 

Alberich, 40. 

Albrecht, Count, 118. 

Alfhild, 219. 

All, V. Wall. 

Alioruna, 234. 

AUfathei- (Odin), 6, 22, 23, 25, 26, 29, 
307 53, 64, 65, 66, 79, 84, 86, 93, 94, 
181, 218, 256, 278, 289, 290, 302, 305, 
307, 308. 

Alraun, 234-5. 

Alswider, 24, 121. 

Alwis, 9, 128. 

Alwismal, 128. 

Ambri, Si. 

Amma, 167. 

Amund, 190. 

Anglo-Saxons, 94, 95, 178, 223, 242, 

Angurboda, 53, 250. 

Animal Worship, 30. 

Apples of Youth, 10, 13, 172, 174, 175, 

Arm^e furieuse, 78. 

Arminius, 96, 208. 

Arthur, King, 78. 

Arwaker, 24, 121. 

Asathor, v. Thor. 

Asciburgum, 171. 

Ases, 4, 23, 58, 62, 87, 88, 94, 129, 142, 
143, 172, 176, 181, 182, i8g, 242, 
247, 250, 252, 264, 265-8, 273, 280, 
285, 287-90, 293, 298, 302-3. 

Asgard, 3, 13, 18, 47, 48, 62, 93, 95, 
124, 138, 143, 172, 175, 176, 184, 
267, 273, 284, 290. 

Ash, the World, v. Yggdrasil. 

Ask, 4, 25. 

Assi, 81. 

Attila, 165, 233. 



Audlang, 305. 
Audumla, 4, 23. 

Baldur, 12, 14, 17, 48, 94, 95. '78, 185, 
226, 259-63, 264, 271, 273-86, 305. 

Balshoff, 122. 

Bar, 242. 

Barbarossa, 79. 

Baugi, 89, 90. 

Beatrix of Cleve, 118. 

Beav, 257. 

Beldegg, 95. 

Bensocia, 104. 

Berchta, 6, 115-21, 

Bergelmir, 4, 23, 249. 

Berlin, 115, 118. 

Berta, v. Berclita. 

Bertha of Rosenberg, 118. 

Bertrada, 119. 

Bestla, 23. 

Beyggwir, 288. 

Beyla, 288. 

Biarki, 227-31. 

Bifrost, ID, 21, 53, 55, 138, 171, 298. 

Bilskirnir, 48, 125. 

Black- Dwarfs, 4. 

Black-Elves, 40, 47, 251, 280, 290. 

Blodhughofi, 190. 

Boar's head, 190. 

Boden, 88, 90. 

Bodwar, v. Biarki. 

Bolwerker, 89, 90. 

Bor, 23,56. 

Bous, 257. 

Bragi, 10, 13, 18, 31, 70, 95, 172, 176, 

Brand, 95. 

Brawalla, Battle of, 221, 335. 

Breidablick, 48, 273. 

Brisingamen, 169-70, 211, 287. 

Brock, 126-8, 189. 
Brynhilde, 96, 232. 
Bui, 257. 
BuUerborn, 272. 
Buri, 4, 23. 

Caesar Augustus, 163. 

Castle Neuhaus, 118. 

Cauldron, Hymir's, 9, 141. 

Charlemagne, 21, 78, 119, 246. 

Chasse de Cain, 78. 

Chasse d'H^rode, 78. 

Cheru (Heru), 9, 161-66, 170. 

Cherusci, 9, 18. 

Christianity, 29, 32, 33, 114, 209, 245, 

Christmas, 75, 190. 
Class-distinctions, origin of, 166-8. 
Cologne, 162. 
Constellations, 49, 50, 212. 
Creation of World, 22-4, 33. 

Dain, 271. 
Dainsleif, 104. 
Day, 4, 24, 93, 273. 
Death, goddess of, v. Hel. 
Deluge, 4, 23, 56, 249. 
Dises, 233, 280, 297. 
Donar, 123. 
Dragons, 33, 44, 208. 
Draupnir, 72, 127, 202, 280, 284. 
Drusus, 233. 
Durin, 38. 
Duckbill, 238, 24a 
Dwalin, 38. 
Dwarf of Death, 172. 
Dwarfs, 4, 14, 25, 38, 40, 52, 88, 104. 
126, 128, 161, 172, 251, 266. 

Earl, 168. 



Earth personified, 6, 31, 55, 116, 


Fensal, or Fensaler, 6, 49, 96, 276. 

171, 189, 204, 209, 211, 224, 297 


Fimbul- Winter, 16, 296. 

also Jord, Nerthus. 

Fingal, 236, 245. 

Earthquake, origin of, 294. 

Fiolnir, 190. 

Easter-eggs, 114. 

Fiols wider, 212-3. 

Ebb-tide, cause of, 136. 

Fiorgyn, 96. 

Edda, 18, 26, 33, 48, 72, 86, 95, 


Fire, v. Logi, Muspel, Surtur. 

137, 1 66, 169, I77> 182, 189, 202-3, 

Fjalar, 88. 

224, 225, 263, 306, 307. 

„ the cock, 297. 

Eigel, King, 171. 

Folkwang, 49, 143, 169, 209. 

Eikthymir, 26. 

Fontainebleau, grand veneur de, 78. 

Einheriar, 11, 16, 69, 70, 76,94, 


Forniot, 241. 

172, 181, 185, 232, 252, 285, 298. 

■ Forseti, 12, 49, 95, 264. 

Elbegast, 40. 

Franks, 71, 94, 95. 

Elberich, 40. 

Frea (Freya), 6. 

Eldir, 288. 

Frealaf, 95. 

Elfheim, 126. 

Frey or Freya, 6, 9, 10, 31, 49, 81, 95, 

Eliwagar, 4, 22, 140, 141, I7t. 

120, 138, 143,169,182, 206, 211,212, 

EUi, 136. 

267, 303, V. also Frigg. 

Elves of Darkness, 4. 

Freyer, 10, 95, 102, 126, 182,189-91, 

Elves of Light, 4. 

199-204, 209, 298. 

Elves, 14, 38, 41, 42, 129, 143- 

Freygerda, 190-1. 

Embla, 4, 25. 

Friday, 209. 

Eric, 69. 

Fridleif, 190-1, 222. 

Erich, 170. 

Frigg, or Frigga (Freya), 6, 7, 14,31, 

Erinnyae, 223. 

49, 83, 93, 95. 96-103, 271, 274, 276, 

Erk, 170. 

282, 287, V. also Freya. 

Erna, 168. 

Frisians, 12, 71, 264. 

Eros, 29. 

Fro, V. Freya. 

Etzel, V. Attila. 

Frodi, 190-8. 

Extern stones, 1 14, 

Frouwa, v. Freya. 
Frost-giants, v. Hrim.hurses. 

Fafnir, 33. 

Frosti, 46. 

Falcon-dress, 142. 

FuUa, 6 99, 100. 

Farbauti, 56, 249. 

Funafeng, 288. 

Fate (Orlog), 10. 

Fates, V. Norns. 

Gaia, 29. 

Fenia, 192-8. 

Galar, 88. 

Fenris-Wolf, S, 9, ", 12, 53, 54, 56, 


Gambach, 115, 

250, 264, 270, 297, 298, 301. 

Gambantrin, 255 



Gambara, 8i. 

GuUfaxi, 138, 140. 

Garm, 225, 297, 301. 

GuUinbursti, 126, 189, 242. 

Gangleri, 63-65. 

Gulltop, 169, 170. 

Gangrader, 93-4. 

GuUweig, 13, 266. 

Gaude, 103. 

Gungnir, 5, 52, 72, loi. 

Gefion, 58-61, 293. 

Gunlod, 5, 89-91, 270. 

Geirod, 9, 55, 83-5. 

Gwodan, 71. 

Geirodsgard, 9, 253. 

Gylphi, King, 58-65. 

Geldar, 260. 

Gymir, 204. 

Gerda, 199-204, 209. 

Gymirsgard, 201. 

Getes, 161. 

Gewar, 259, 263. 

Hadding, 190. 

Giallarhorn, 86, 297, 298. 

Hahnir (Honir), 25. 

Giants, 4, 5, 14, 16, 42, 44, 55, S6, 67, 

Hakelbarend, 74. 

V. also Hrimthurses, Jotuns. 

Hakelberg, 74. 

Giantesses, 15, 88, 253. 

Hakon, 69-7a 

Gilling, 88. 

Har, 64. 

Gimil, 64, 183, 305. 

Harald Harfager, 32, 209. 

Ginnungagap, 22, 23. 

Harbard Lay, 9. 

Gioll, 54, 225, 282. 

Harz Mountains, 43, 67. 

Girdles, magic, 42. 

Hat, Odin's broad-brimmed, 72, 


Giuli, 190. 

77, 84, 227. 

Gladsheim, 48. 

Hati, 297. 

Glasir, 48, 51, 185. 

Hedin, 104, 226. 

Glitnir, 49, 264. 

Heidrun, 26, 52. 

Glowheim, 56. 

Heimchen, 117. 

Gna, 6, 99, loo. 

Heimdaglinger, 170. 

Gnypa cave, 225, 297. 

Heimdal, 10, 48, 55, 95, '44, i66, 


Godan, 71, 103. 

70, 171,242,267,271,297,301. 

Code, 6, 103. 

Heimdellinger, 170. 

Goldemar, 40. 

Hel, 5, 10, II, 14, 26,37, 53, 54 


Golden Age, 12, 265-6. 

64, 78,94,202,224-6, 250,271, 


G611, 228. 

282-4, 306. 

Gondul, 69, 228. 

Helga, 210. 

Good and Evil, 55. 

Helgi, 259, 260. 

Gospel, V. Christianit>\ 

Helheim, 11, 47, 54, 129, 250, 297. 

Grimnir, 84, 139. 

Hel-huntsman, 78. 

Groa, 140. 

Hengist, 95. 

Grotti, 192. 

Hephaestos, 39. 

Gudan, 71. 

Her, 46. 



Herakles, 57, 142, 177, 218. 

Herlething, 77. 

Hermon, 256. 

Hermodur, 12, 14, 53, 70, 95, 254-6, 
279, 282-4. 

Herodotus, 161. 

Hertha, 103. 

Heru, 9, i6i, 170. 

Hialti, 227-31. 

Hilde, 104, 226, 228, 232. 

Hildesheim, 107. 

Himinbiorg, 49, 169, 170. 

Hindu idea of the world, 17. 

Hiorward, 229. 

HIedra, 61, 190, 226, 229, 230. 

Hler (Ogir), 11, 46, 249. 

Hlidskialf, 6, 48, 52, 54, 72, 83, 123, 
199, 254, 290. 

Hlin, 6, 99. 

Hlora, 123. 

Hlorridi, 122, 123, 290, 293. 

Hoddmimir's Wood, 17, 302. 

Hodur, 12, 14, IS, 17, 95, 249, 259-63, 

278, 285, 305. 
Hogni, 104, 226. 
Holda, 6, 107-115, 120, 225. 
Honir, 4, 10, 25, 30, 95, 173-4, 182, 

183, 248. 
Hood of darkness, 42, 242. 
Hoof-flinger, 99. 
Horleif, 33. 
Horsa, 95. 

Horse-Iiair Beard, 219-20. 
Horselberg, 113. 
Hrafnagalder, 272. 
Hrany, 227. 
firaudung, 83. 
Hrimfaxi, 24. 
Hrimgrimnir, 204. 
Hrimthurses, 13, 23, 26, 43, 45, 53, 

loi, 113, 122, 129, 137, 142, 174-6, 

189, 200-4, 267, 280, 298. 
Hringhorn, 280. 
Hrist, 228. 
Hrodso, 78. 

Hrossharsgrani, 72, 219. 
Hrungnir, 9, 55, 137-40. 
Hugin, 52, 89, 271. 

thejotun, 135, 136. 

Hugrunes, 87. 
Huld, 113. 
Hulda, no, 113. 
Huldra, 113. 
Hulla, 113. 
Huns, 46, 164-6, 234. 
Hwergelmir, 22, 225. 
Hyniir, 9, 145. 
Hyrrockin, 281. 

Ibor, 81. 

Ida, Plains of, 17, 266, 302, 305. 
Idises, V. Dises. 

Iduna, ID, 13, 114, 170, 172, 174-6, 177, 
184, 270-2. 

Ifing, 47, 53, 143- 
Ildiko, 165. 
Indian Myths, 29. 
Ingulf, 33. 
Iring's Road, 170, 
Irmin, 171, 256. 
Isa, 107. 
Iwaldi, 161, 173, 
Iwaldur, 126. 

Jafenhar, 64. 
Jarl, 168. 
Jarnsaxa, 124. 

Johann of Lichtenberg, 1 1 S. 
Jord, 31, 95, 96, 122, 123, 209, V. also 
Eaith, Nerthus. 




Jormungander, 53, 54, 250, 301. 

Loreley, 240-1. 

Jotunheim, 26, 45, 47, 53, 89, 93, 


Lucifer, 250. 

281, 290. 

Jotuns, 5, 13,45,58,86,89,90,93, 


Maelar Lake, 62. 

131, 137, 139, 200, 247-9, 298, ■z/. 


Magni, 17, 95, 124, 137, 140, 305- 

Giants, Hrimthurses. 

Maiden's Leap, 67. 

Judges, Forseti's twelve, 12. 

Maine, 119. 

Judgment oi" the gods (Ragnarok), 


Mandrake root, 234. 

264, 305- 

Mani, 24, 66, v. also Moon. 

Jul, 190. 

Maria am Schnee, 107. 

Juritha, 222. 

Markomanns, 161. 
May, 82, 236, 285. 

Kari, 46, 56, 241, 249. 

Mayence, 120. 

Karl, 167. 

Meeting of the Wise Men, 208. 

Kobolds, 39, 113. 

Meissner Gebirge, 1 1 5. 

Konur, 168. 

Menglada, 212-4. 

Kraki, King, 226-31. 

Menia, 192-8. 

Kunigunde, 118. 

Mercury, 72. 

Kwasir, 88-9, 295. 

Mesnie, Hellequin, 78. 

Kyffhauser, 79. 

Mettena, 223. 
Michael, Archangel, 21. 

Lake-maiden, 236-40. 

Midgard, 24, 26, 43, 47, 52, 124, 


Landwidi, 49, 254. 


Liirad, 26. 

Midgard Snake, 5, 11, 53, 54, 56, 


Last Battle, 5, 16, 26, 33, 44, 49, 56 


297, V. also Jormungander. 

272, 298, 307. 

Milky Way, 104, 170. 

Laufey, 56, 128, 144, 249. 

Mimir, i, 10, 86, 87, 182, 302. 

Lif, 17, 302, 305. 

Mimir's Well, i, 93, 251, 298. 

Lifthrasir, 17, 302. 

Mimring, 260, 261, 263. 

Light-Elves, 40, 47, 49, 190, 258, 280. 

MioU, 46. 

Lit, 281. 

Miolnir, 9, 17, 122, 124, 125-2S, 


Lodur, 4, 25, 30, 249. 

137. 139, 142, 143, 161, 269, 281, 


Lofar, 38. 

Mist, 238. 

Lofna, 6. 

Mistletoe, 14, 277. 

Logi, 43, 46, 56, 135, 136, 241, 249- 

Mithras, 279. 

Loki, II, 13, 14, 15, 16, 38, 53, 54, 


Mockerkalfi, 139. 

95, 126, 129-37, 142, 143, 169 


Modgud, 282. 

173-6, 184, 247-51,267-9,271,277- 

Modi, 17 95, 124, 305- 

8, 287-95, 297, 29S. 

Modsognir, 38. 

Longobards, 71, 81. 

Moira, 217. 



Moon, 4, 13, 16, 24, 30, 86, 102, 267, 

29s, 297. 
Mountain of Venus, 113. 
Mumel-King, 11. 
Mumel, Lake, 86, 236. 
Munin, 52, 89. 
Muot, 71, 77. 
Muspel, 56, 57. 
Muspel, sons of, 5, 16, 44, 54, 56, 57, 

Muspelheim, 22, 24, 47, 52, 56. 
Mysinger, 197-8. 
Myths, formation of, 3, 29. 

Nain, 172. 

Nanna, 12, 14, 259-63, 264, 280, 283. 

Narwi, 250, 294. 

Necks, 1 1, 245, V. also Nixies, Water- 

Nehalennia, 107. 

Nemesis, 218. 

Nertlius, 31, 103, 184, 189, 209, V. 
also Earth, Jord. 

Nidhogg, 26, 225, 253. 

Nifelheim, 11, 22, 47, 54. 

Nifelhel, 64, 138, 269, 273. 

Niflung Lay, 95. 

Niflungs, 33. 

Night, 4, 24, 25, 66, 93, 271, 273. 

Niorder, 10, 49, 93, 95, 103, 178, 182, 
183, 185-7, 200, 209. 

Nixies, 1 1, 245, v. also Necks, Water- 

Norns, 10, 11, 12, 13, 26,36-7, 94, 162, 
201, 214, 217-23, 233, 253, 298. 

Noah, 23. 

Noatun, 49, 184, 186. 

Number Nip, 40. 

Oanswald, "JT, 

Oberon, 40. 

Odin, I, 4, 5, 9, 12, 14, 23, 25, 30, 52, 
53, 54. 55, 56, 66-95,71, 79, 96, 101- 
2, 113, 126, 127, 138, 161, 173-4, 185, 
219-21, 228-30, 247, 249,252-3,254, 
271, 273, 274-6, 287, 289, 298, 301, 

Odin, the False, 79, 102. 

Odo, 71. 

Odrorir, 5, 88, 90, 93, 270. 

Odur, 212. 

Odysseus, 171. 

Ogir, II, 15, 56, 176, 184, 204, 236-46, 
249, 287, 290. 

Ogishelm, 242. 

Okeanos, 241. 

Okuthor, 122. 

Olaf, 68. 

Orendel, 171. 

Orgelmir (Ymir), 27. 

Orion, belt of, 99. 

Ormuzd, 57, 306-7. 

Orlog, 10, II, 218, 279. 

Orwandil, 140-1, 171. 

Oski, 82. 

Ossian, 73. 

Ostara, 107, 114. 

Oswald, 21, 77. 

Palaces of the Gods, 47. 
Pepin, 119. 
Pharaildis, 105. 
Phoenicians, 34, 39, 279, 
Plassenburg, 118. 
Poetry, god of, v. Bragi. 
Polytheism, 30-1. 

Quades, 161. 
Quern-stones, 191-8. 
Quick-born, 113. 



Raging Host, 67, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78. 
RagnarSk, 16, 264, 290, 296-301, 306, 

Ran, II, 243. 

Ravens, Odin's two, I, 52, 280. 
Regin, 11, 80, 218-21, 306. 
Reine p^dauque, 120. 
Renewal of the world, 16, 87, 301-2, 

Rerir, 99, 209. 
Riesengebirge, 40, 43, 44. 
Riger, v. Heimdal. 
Rigsmal, 169. 

Rinda, 12, 31, 95, 256, 263, 275, 285. 
Rings, Magic, 41, 42. 
Roesfield, 260. 
RoUo, 32. 
Roskwa, 130, 137. 
Rosstioph, 255-6. 
Runes, 6, 33, 34, 59, 63, 86, 87, 104, 

168, 202, 203, 255, 273, 274. 

Saemund the Wise, 33. 

Saga, I, 2, 10, 18, 19, 48, 49. 

Sahrimnir, 52, 142, 173. 

St. Emmeran, 281. 

St. Gertrude, 107. 

St. Martin, 21. 

St. Oswald, 21, 77. 

St. Peter, 21. 

Saming, 95. 

Saxnot (Heru), 9, 123, l6i. 

Saxons, 71. 

Scythians, 161. 

Sea, God of the, v. Ogir. 

Selke, 66. 

Sessrumnir, 209. 

Sif, 123, 125, 128, 137. 

Sigi, 95. 99- 
Sigmund, 95, 100. 

Sigrun, 232. 

Sigurd, 33, 95, 96, 100. 

Sigyn, 16, 250, 293, 294. 

Sin, 13, IS, 266-9. 

Sindri, 126, 161, 189. 

Siofna, 6. 

Skadi, 48, 176, 178, 183, 1S4-7. 

Skeaf, 256-8. 

Skidbladnir, 189. 

Skinfaxi, 24. 

Skiold, 61, 95. 


Skirnir, 123, 200-4, 249. 

Skogul, 69, 70, 228. 

Skrymir, 1 3 1-7, 290. 

Skrymsli, 248-9. 

Skuld, 229. 

, V. Noms. 

Sleeping Beauty, 37, 204. 

Sleeping Heroes, 78-So. 

Sleipnir, 138, 255, 269, 273, 279, 282, 

Snar, 46. 
Snor, 167. 

Snorri Sturlason, 33. 
Sokwabek, 48, 162. 
Sol, 24. 
Son, 88, 90. 
Starkad, 218-21. 
Stars, 74, 102, 176, 295. 
Suiones, 183. 
Sun, 4, 13, 16, 24, 30, 86, 102, 267, 273, 

295, 297. 
Sun-god, 279. 
Surtur, I, 5, 16, 44, 47, 48, 51, 52, 54, 

57, 251, 253, 272, 298-301, 305. 
Suttung, 88, 89, 90. 
Swadilfari, 267, 269. 
Swan-knight, 118. 
Swawa, 232. 



Swendal, 204. 

Swipdager, 95,213-4. 

Sword-Gods, v. Tyr, Cheru, Heimdal. 

Tannhauser, 113. 

Theodorick of Bern, 78. 

Thialfi, 122, 130, 137, 139, 140. 

Thiassi, 48, 55, l74-6j 184, 249. 

Thock, 284. 

Thor, 6, 9, 13, 15, 21, ss, 95, 121-61, 

219-21, 260, 268-9, 281, 290, 298. 
Thorkill, 210. 
Thrain, 271. 
Thrall, 166. 
Thridi, 64. 

Thrones, twelve, of the gods, 52. 
Thrud, 124, 128, 140. 

a Walkyrie, 228. 

Thrudheim, 48, 125, 137, 140. 
Thrym, 9, 55, 143-46, 298. 
Thrymheim, 9, 48, I42j 143, 144, 176, 

184, 186. 
Thunar (Thor), 6, 21, 121, 123. 
Thurses, v. Hrimthurses. 
Thusnelda, 96. 
Thyr, 167. 
Titania, 40. 
Titans, 44. 
Tooth-cracker, 123. 
Tooth-gnasher, 123, 
Trolls, 25, 58. 
Twelfth Night, 75. 
Twilight of the gods, 54, 72, 86, 296- 

301, 305, V. also Ragnarok. 
Tyche, 218. 
Tyr, 9, 10, 31, 49, 53, 54, 95, 103, 170, 

233, 301- 

UUer, 48, 49, 95, 124, 177-9, 186. 

Ulphilas, 34. 

Upsala temple, 123. 

Urd, Fountain of, II, 26, 144, 222, 

Urd, V. Norns. 
Utgard, 47, 129. 
Utgard-Loki, 9, 132-7, 249. 
Utgarthlociis, 250. 
Urlak, V. Orlog. 

Venus, 113. 
Vespasiin, 164. 
Vitellius, i£2-4 
Voden, 94. 

VoUa, 99, V. also Fulla. 
Vrouelden, 104. 
Vulder, 178. 

Waflhrudnir, 5, 93-4. 

Wala, 14, 47, 66, 232, 273, 297, 301, 

306, 309-16. 
Walaskialf, 48. 
Walcheren, 107. 
Walhalla, ii,'26, 48, 51, 55, (10, 70, 76, 

84, 138, 142, 185, 227, 232, 252, 277, 

Wall, 12, IS, 17,48,49. 95, 250, 256-8, 

285, 294, 305. 
Walkyries, 5, 10, 11, 51, do, 66, 69, 70,, 

104, 209, 217, 226-33, 261, 280. 
Wals, 95. 
Walser Field, 80. 
Waltam, 275. 
Wanaheim, 47, 182. 
Wanes, 10, 47, 88, 94, 95, 100, 102, 103, 

129, i8i-3, 189, 266. 
Wara, 6. 
Warkald, 213. 
Water-sprites, 11, 241, 280, v. also 

Lake-maiden and Ogir. 



Waude, 77. 

Wodan (Odin), 5, 31, 71-2, 



Waul, 77. 

103, 123, 161, 208, 209, 235. 

Wave-maidens, 10, 171. 

Wode, 71, 73, 74. 

We, 4, 23, 30, 56. 

Wodel-beer, 76. 

Wegdegg, 95, 

Wogg, 227-31. 

Wegtam, 274. 

Wold, 71, 76. 

Werdandi, v. Norns. 

Wolf, V. Fenris-Wolf. 

White Lady, ii6-i8. 

Wolves, Odin's two, 52. 

Widar, 12, 17, 49, 95, 252-4, 289, 301, 

Wolsing, 100, 208. 


Wood-demons, 260, 280, 285, 



Widblain, 305. 


Wights, 42. 

Wood-maidens, 74. 

Wigrid, Field of, 16, 56, 253, 298. 

Worlds of the gods, 4, 47, 

Wikar, King, 220. 

Woensjager, 73. 

Wiking raids, 21, 32, 70, 104, 220, 258, 

Woluspa, 33, 309-16. 


Wuotan (Odin), 5, 71. 

Wikings, 26, 141, 218. 

Wurd V. Urd. 

Wild Hunt, 5, 67, 72, 75, 77, 78, 104. 
Wild Huntsman, 73-78. 
Will, 4, 23, 30, 56. 
Windkald, 213, 214. 
Wingnir, 123. 
Wingolf, 49, 64. 

Wingthor, 122, 123, 129, 142, v. also 

Ydalir, 48, 49, 178. 
Yggdrasil, 11, 13, 16, 26, 27, 

222, 253, 270, 298, 301. 
Ymir, 4, 22, 23, 24, 46, 55, 249. 
Yngwi, 95. 
Yrsa, 227. 
Yule-feast, 49. 



Wise Women, 233. 

Zealand, 61, 62. 

Wish-father (Odin), 75. 

Zend-Avesta, 307. 

Wish-maidens (Walkyries), it. 

Zerwana-Arkana, 306-7. 

Woda, 71. 

Zio (Tyr), 9, 103, 170,233. 

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FLOWER LORE. By Rev. Hilderic Friend. 

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